Bank Notes

W. Va. attorney general sues Countrywide

West Virginia's attorney general accuses a national mortgage lender of making risky and unconscionable loans in a lawsuit that's similar to challenges filed in several other states.

In the lawsuit, filed Tuesday, Attorney General Darrell McGraw asks a county circuit judge to stop Countrywide Financial Corp. and four subsidiaries from foreclosing on loans, using “unfair and deceptive” practices and enforcing delinquency judgments.

McGraw accuses the Calabasas, Calif.-based companies of luring customers with teaser rates that rise to unaffordable rates of up to 18 percent. He also claims the companies enticed customers with no-down-payment loans and inflated appraisals.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified restitution for consumers who lost money, a $5,000 civil penalty and legal fees.

Speaking for Charlotte-based Bank of America, which now owns Countrywide, spokeswoman Shirley Norton said she had not seen the complaint and could not comment on it.

“We are working hard to combine our two companies, and are confident we will be recognized as a leader in responsible lending practices,” she said.

Associated Press