Appeals court: Wells Fargo cannot avoid new govt allegations stemming from mortgage crisis

WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court said Tuesday that Wells Fargo cannot avoid new allegations of misconduct stemming from the mortgage crisis even though the bank has already paid $5 billion in a national settlement between the government and financial institutions.

Six months after the 2012 settlement, the government filed a wide-ranging complaint against Wells Fargo in federal court in New York alleging further wrongdoing, this time focused on the bank’s origination and underwriting of thousands of individual, federally insured mortgages. Wells Fargo went to court, saying its prior settlement broadly released the bank from liability for any company-wide conduct having to do with annual certifications to the government.

In a 3-0 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit says the settlement was much narrower, and it expressly preserved the government’s right to pursue claims regarding federal insurance of residential mortgage loans that violates any applicable laws or regulations.

“Wells Fargo’s efforts to escape those contractual limitations fail,” wrote the three-judge panel.

The three judges in the case were Janice Rogers Brown and Thomas Griffith, both nominees of President George W. Bush, and Patricia Millett, a nominee of President Barack Obama