M&T Bank has agreed to pay $485,000 and change its lending policies to settle a lawsuit that accused the Buffalo, N.Y., company of racial discrimination in making mortgage loans.

The Fair Housing Justice Center and nine minority plaintiffs had sued the $97 billion-asset M&T in February, claiming the bank steered minority applicants in New York into loans they could not afford and made lending decisions based on race.

M&T's payment will go to the plaintiffs for damages and to cover legal fees. A federal judge approved the settlement on Monday. The details were made public in a Fair Housing Justice Center news release Monday and were confirmed by M&T.

M&T will adopt a policy that prohibits steering and will post the revised policy on its website. M&T will also hire a consultant to revise how it trains for lenders on fair housing and fair lending laws.

M&T also agreed to have its loan officers provide written estimates to loan applicants that include the purchase price, interest rates and down payment amounts.

"M&T Bank is deeply committed to fair housing and fair lending, and has received the highest possible rating from its regulators in Community Reinvestment Act compliance since 1989," the bank said in a statement included in the release.

"All lenders should understand that compliance with fair housing and fair lending laws goes beyond Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) ratings and approvals by regulators," Fred Freiberg, the Fair Housing Justice Center's executive director, said in the release.

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