UPDATE 2-JPMorgan paying $45 million to settle mortgage suit

Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:21pm EDT

March 13 (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co is paying the federal government $45 million to settle a lawsuit alleging it charged veterans hidden fees in mortgage refinancings.

The whistleblower lawsuit, filed in 2006 in Georgia by two mortgage brokers, seeks payments on behalf of the U.S. government by eight banks and mortgage companies, a law firm involved in the case said Tuesday. JPMorgan is the first bank to reach a settlement.

According to court documents filed on Monday, the payment was part of the national mortgage settlement over foreclosure abuses reached with JPMorgan and four other lenders last month. Banks also agreed to pay $182 million in four other whistleblower cases.

The two whistleblowers will share about 26 percent of the settlement, or $11.7 million, according to the law firm of Butler, Wooten & Fryhofer in Atlanta. The case is still pending against the other lenders, including Bank of America Corp , Wells Fargo & Co and Citigroup Inc.

JPMorgan declined to comment.

Meanwhile, the American Banker reported on its website that JPMorgan stopped suing delinquent credit card customers last year amid another federal investigation into allegations of faulty account records.

The credit card probe by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Bank stemmed from a whistleblower complaint and a wrongful termination suit by a former employee, according to the report. The former employee said she was fired because she objected to the bank's sale to outside collection companies of claims based on flawed records, according to the report.

In response to the credit card story, the bank issued a statement on Tuesday saying that it had found "procedural issues" and notified regulators after conducting an internal review following problems with mortgage debts.

"We have since done a number of tests and found that in the overwhelming majority of cases, the amount collected from customers was correct," the bank said in the statement.

Spokesman Paul Hartwick declined to comment further. OCC spokesman Dean DeBuck declined to comment.

The American Banker said that court filings and interviews with seven current and former employees had corroborated allegations by the former employee. The reporting showed the bank's credit card litigation unit was plagued by unreliable outside lawyers, "disregard for accuracy and patchy technology," according to the publication.

The credit card report can be found at

JPMorgan shares were up 1.8 percent around midday Tuesday in New York trading.

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