January 3, 2018 / 5:21 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-PHH Corp settles with 49 U.S. states over mortgage misconduct

(Includes details, background and context)

By Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia have reached a $45 million settlement with mortgage lender PHH Corp over alleged misconduct tied to its servicing of single-family mortgages.

The settlement announced on Wednesday resolves allegations that from 2009 to 2012 the lender failed to apply payments promptly, charged borrowers unauthorized fees, and threatened foreclosure to borrowers engaged in loss mitigation.

The company did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement, which stems from a 2010 examination conducted by the Multi-State Mortgage Committee, a panel of state mortgage regulators.

The settlement did not include the state of New Hampshire.

The company will follow comprehensive mortgage servicing standards, conduct audits and provide results to states under the deal. Over $30 million of the settlement funds will go toward affected borrowers.

The settlement comes as PHH Mortgage awaited a ruling from a U.S. appeals court in its fight against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB sued PHH Mortgage in 2014, charging it engaged in a mortgage insurance kickback scheme.

The company responded by challenging the CFPB’s structure in court, arguing it was unconstitutional and the president should have the authority to fire its chief.

Under current law, the CFPB director can only be removed for cause. A panel on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. ruled in 2016 the agency’s structure was unconstitutional. The regulator appealed that ruling, which is pending before the full court.

In August, PHH Mortgage agreed to pay $74.5 million to settle a separate U.S. probe over whether it generated defective loans that the federal government then insured and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bought. (Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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