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US Seeks Damages from Allied Home Mortgage for Alleged Lending Fraud

One of the nation’s largest privately held mortgage companies, Allied Home Mortgage Corporation (Allied), and two of its top executives, CEO Jim Hodge and Executive VP Jeanne Stell, are facing scrutiny for providing false loan certifications to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Peter Belli, a former regional manager at Allied, filed suit against his former employer under the False Claims Act and the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA).  The government, through U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, joined Belli and others in claiming that Allied lied about its compliance with HUD regulations.

In the complaint, Belli asserts that Allied made many loans through various “shadow” branches that were not HUD-approved and lacked proper quality control. Allied would then “submit those loans to HUD using one of the unique branch identification numbers (“HUDIDs”) assigned to a HUD-approved branch.”  Then, “HUD endorsed these loans for insurance based on false certifications that the loans were originated in compliance with HUD requirements, including, most fundamentally, that the loans originated from HUD-approved branches.”   To maintain this ‘culture of corruption’ at Allied, the complaint states that Hodge and others threatened senior management with termination, aggressively monitored employees’ e-mail communications,  and even silenced former employees by threatening legal action.

The federal government claims that nearly 1 in 3 of the HUD-insured loans Allied made between 2001 and 2010 went into default because of Allied’s reckless lending practices. These defaults reportedly created more than $834 million in insurance claims and forced thousands of borrowers out of their homes while Allied earned millions of dollars. Another 2,509 loans underwritten by Allied are currently in danger of default, which may result in additional losses estimated at $363 million.

The government is seeking triple damages and civil fines for Allied’s alleged fraud and is seeking an injunction to stop Allied from making any further loans out of its undisclosed branches.

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