U.S. to resolve probes of financial firms in coming months -Holder

WASHINGTON, June 23 Mon Jun 23, 2014 12:19pm EDT

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WASHINGTON, June 23 (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Monday the Justice Department expects to resolve more probes of financial firms in the coming months as part of its wide-ranging consumer fraud investigation.

The investigation, known as "Operation Choke Point," is more than one year old and seeks to eliminate fraud by going after firms that handle and move money for various suspect businesses.

"In the months ahead, we expect to resolve other investigations involving financial institutions that chose to process transactions, even though they knew the transactions were fraudulent, or willfully ignored clear evidence of fraud," Holder said in a weekly video message.

The Justice Department has opened criminal and civil probes into at least 15 banks and payment processors as part of the investigation, according to documents released last month.

It reached a settlement in April with Four Oaks Bank of North Carolina, which U.S. prosecutors said worked with a third-party payment processor that handled fraudulent transactions.

Some Republican lawmakers have complained that the Justice Department is unfairly trying to put legitimate firms out of business by pressuring banks to stop working with them.

A group of payday lenders has sued U.S. bank regulators over the probe, saying it was part of a "concerted campaign" to drive small-dollar lenders out of business.

Holder said in the video message that the investigation would not penalize businesses that follow the law. (Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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