Judge denies Wells Fargo attempt to fight financial crisis suit

WASHINGTON Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:52pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal judge on Tuesday denied Wells Fargo's attempt to beat back a financial-crisis lawsuit by arguing it conflicted with an earlier settlement.

District Judge Rosemary Collyer in Washington, who is supervising the 2012 multi-bank $25 billion mortgage misconduct settlement, said she did not agree with the bank's assessment of that settlement.

But she declined to rule on the new Justice Department lawsuit, which is seeking damages and penalties for more than 10 years of alleged misconduct related to government-insured Federal Housing Administration loans, and left a federal court in New York to determine whether the two conflict.

The fourth-largest U.S. bank had asked Collyer in November to rule that the government violated the terms of the multi-bank deal in filing a new case.

Wells Fargo said the earlier consent judgment "wiped the slate clean" for the bank in terms of certain conduct related to its FHA portfolio.

But on Tuesday, Collyer said the language in the settlement "does not have the meaning ascribed to it by Wells Fargo," and denied the bank's request for an order enforcing the settlement.

A spokesman for Wells Fargo had no immediate comment. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan, which brought the lawsuit, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Aruna Viswanatha; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Phil Berlowitz)

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