American Financial settles discrimination allegations

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American Financial Network has agreed to pay $5,000 to an unnamed person of Hispanic origin to settle a Fair Housing Act claim.

The complainant, whose name was blacked out in documents provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, filed a complaint last October alleging American Financial Network, along with homebuilder Benchmark Communities, would not prequalify him or her for a mortgage based on national origin.

American Financial and Benchmark denied the allegations but elected to enter into a conciliation agreement, the document said.

In addition to the payment, Brea, Calif.-based American Financial will train all of its employees on fair housing on an annual basis. Plus any new hires participate in the fair housing training course within the first six months of hire or sooner.

The company has already provided a copy of its training policy and its fair housing/fair lending course curriculum to HUD, the document said.

Benchmark Communities also agreed to train all of its employees who interact with homebuyers on fair housing, with new hires also being trained within six months.

"Neither side admits any wrongdoing in the conciliation agreement, and AFN plans to release a statement shortly," an email from Andy S. Kalyviaris, the company's chief compliance officer and associate general counsel, stated.

The situation was resolved fully to Benchmark Communities' satisfaction and it had no further comment, said Holly Cordova, general counsel.

"Where a person comes from should not impact their ability to purchase a home. Today's action reflects our nation's promise of fair housing and equal access to credit for every qualified individual, regardless of their national origin," said Bryan Greene, HUD's general deputy assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, in a press release.

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