Bank Watch

Bank of America closing in on relief required by settlement, report says

Pedestrians pass in front of a Bank of America branch in New York on July 13, 2016.
Pedestrians pass in front of a Bank of America branch in New York on July 13, 2016. Bloomberg

Bank of America has provided nearly all of the $7 billion in consumer relief required by a record 2014 mortgage settlement, according to an independent monitor’s report Wednesday.

Monitor Eric Green said he has now given approval for $6.8 billion in relief to the Charlotte-based bank, which must provide the aid under its $16.65 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and six states. Bank of America appears to be on target to meet its obligations this year, ahead of the 2018 deadline, Green said.

Green noted his approval remains conditional and subject to final determination that the bank’s relief efforts comply with all requirements of the settlement.

“This latest monitor’s report again shows Bank of America has extended meaningful relief to homeowners in need of assistance,” bank spokesman Dan Frahm said. The pace of relief reflects the bank’s “effort to provide solutions to homeowners as quickly as possible, when that assistance was most needed,” he said.

In reaching the settlement, Bank of America admitted it, Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch took part in faulty mortgage-backed securities practices. The bank bought Countrywide in 2008 and Merrill Lynch in 2009. The accord was the biggest civil settlement between a single company and the government.

Under the settlement, Bank of America can earn credit for various forms of consumer relief. Those include modifying mortgages to make them more affordable, giving loans to low-income and moderate-income borrowers and donating money to housing-counseling and legal-assistance groups.

The settlement made incentives available to Bank of America for relief provided ahead of the 2018 deadline. Extra credit was offered for aid issued last year.

Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts