EXCLUSIVE-U.S. plans new bank fraud cases in early 2014 -attorney general

Wed Dec 4, 2013 4:39pm GMT

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(Adds details from interview)

By David Ingram

WASHINGTON Dec 4 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department plans to bring civil mortgage fraud cases against several financial institutions early in 2014, using as a template the case that ended last month in JPMorgan Chase & Co's $13 billion settlement, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Wednesday.

In an interview with Reuters, Holder would not say which companies or how many could face lawsuits but said the Justice Department was in contact with them and it was hard to say whether the talks would lead to settlements.

"We have a number of investigations that are coming to a head at the same time," he said. "It is my hope that the next round of these cases will be filed soon after the new year."

JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank, agreed last month to pay $13 billion to end a series of government investigations into its marketing and sale of mortgage-backed securities.

The settlement had four elements that were important to the government, Holder said: the resolution of civil fraud allegations, the ability of prosecutors to pursue criminal charges if warranted, a statement of facts describing the bank's conduct and help for consumers hurt in the financial crisis.

"Those four things I think comprise what we think of as a template for the resolution of these other matters as they're brought," he said.

Holder said it was difficult to predict how new cases will "ultimately be resolved, at least at this point - whether there will be a resolution or whether we will actually be filing something in the absence of a resolution." (Editing by Howard Goller and Matthew Lewis)