Quicken, HUD resolve False Claims Act dispute with a $32.5M payment

Quicken Loans claimed victory in its dispute with the Department of Housing and Urban Development over the False Claims Act, only paying the agency for losses incurred and interest.

The parties resolved the issue with a payment of $32.5 million, of which $7 million was interest.

The Detroit-based lender was very firm in its position that it acted properly when submitting loans for Federal Housing Administration insurance between 2007 and 2011, said Vice Chairman Bill Emerson.

"Our stance had been from the beginning that we had done nothing wrong, that the allegations were false, what the government was trying to assert was absolutely 100% inaccurate," Emerson said. "We have always followed the rules and done the right thing."

"We told them all along that we would follow the typical FHA quality control process and if they could show us loans where they thought they were owed some money, that we would evaluate those loans. We did exactly that and I think the numbers speak for themselves."

Quicken originated $108 billion of loans from 2007 to date and $25.5 million of loan balance is the amount the company is making FHA whole for, he said. "That is 0.02% of the production we did in that time frame and it substantiates us, not only as the largest FHA lender, but we always asserted we were the highest quality FHA lender by FHA's own measurable standards."

Quicken and HUD were ordered into mediation in April by U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith. Following the agreement, Judge Goldsmith dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning it cannot be refiled.

"Upon learning the concerns of all parties involved, and after several meetings followed by two full days of mediation, I submitted a Mediator's Proposal to the parties that each of them ultimately accepted," read a statement from the mediator, Gerald Rosen, a retired judge. "The Mediator's Proposal was neither party's suggestion, but instead reflected a fair path for resolving their dispute."

There were no findings or admissions relating to the claims or defenses of the parties, the statement said.

"Today, HUD reached an important resolution with Quicken Loans so that, together, we may continue offering safe and sustainable mortgage financing to qualified, creditworthy borrowers," Amy Thompson, HUD Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, said in the statement from the mediator. "FHA relies on its partnerships with lenders, such as Quicken Loans, to advance home buying opportunities for Americans, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with Quicken Loans."

Emerson seconded that remark, saying, "We've been doing the right thing for our entire careers and we continue to help middle-class Americans every single day who are looking for FHA lending."

The agreement comes after four years of litigation, which started when Quicken sued the Department of Justice on a preemptive basis in April 2015. Under the Obama administration, HUD and DOJ were aggressive in using the False Claims Act against lenders.

Among some of the larger settlements during that era were Wells Fargo for $1.2 billion, Freedom Mortgage for $113 million, Branch Bank & Trust for $83 million and Franklin American Mortgage for $70 million.

In May, the Trump administration and its FHA Commissioner Brian Montgomery said it would clarify its loan level and annual certifications and make changes to its defect taxonomy tool, which would provide originators and servicers with greater certainty around compliance.

Among recent settlements, Deloitte & Touche agreed to pay $149.5 million in a case that was related to the Taylor, Bean & Whitaker fraud. Reverse mortgage lender Financial Freedom settled for $89 million in May 2017, while in August of that year, PHH settled for $75 million.

Lennar subsidiary Universal American Mortgage agreed to pay $13.2 million last October to settle its case.

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