Citigroup close to negotiating deal for selling bad mortgage

Citigroup will announce the deal with the Justice Department soon, a reversal from a potential breakdown of talks between the two in mid-June.
By Ananth Baliga  |  July 9, 2014 at 10:52 AM
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NEW YORK, July 9 (UPI) -- Citigroup is expected to pay a $7 billion penalty for packaging bad mortgages in the run-up to the financial crisis, according to people close to the matter.

The Justice Department and Citigroup are expected to announce the deal sometime this week. Negotiations reached a dead end a few weeks ago when the Justice Department threatened to sue the bank if it did not agree with the government's proposal. At one point in the talks the government was asking Citigroup to pay $10 billion, much more than what Wall Street analysts had estimated.

Citigroup will pay $4 billion in cash and the rest of the penalty will involve soft dollar penalties like mortgage modifications and other forms of relief to homeowners. The bank will also have to pay certain state attorneys general involved in the case.

The deal will come as a relief to Citigroup, which at one point was facing legal action from the Justice Department, removing a potential legal obstacle that would have had an impact on its share price.

The bank argued that its pre-crisis mortgage activity should not be equated to J.P. Morgan Chase, which sold far more bad mortgages before the crisis. J.P. Morgan Chase reached a landmark $13 billion settlement with the Justice Department last November.

Another major global bank, BNP Paribas, reached an $8.9 billion settlement with federal and state officials last week, for violating U.S. sanctions. Bank of America also stuck a $9.5 billion deal with federal prosecutors for selling bad securities through its Merrill Lynch unit. Bank of America has maintained that it wanted to back out of acquiring Merrill Lynch but felt pressured by federal regulators to go ahead with the purchase.

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