GFI Mortgage Bankers Inc., a large independent home mortgage firm that concentrates on the New York, New Jersey, and Florida markets, will pay $3.555 million to resolve a lending discrimination lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. The lawsuit alleges that GFI engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by pricing residential mortgage loans for qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers higher than for similarly-qualified non-Hispanic white borrowers between 2005 and 2009.
The settlement provides $3.5 million in compensation to approximately 600 African-American and Hispanic GFI borrowers identified by the United States as paying more for a loan based on their race or national origin, and it requires GFI to pay the maximum $55,000 civil penalty allowed by the Fair Housing Act. The settlement also requires GFI to develop and implement new policies that limit the pricing discretion of its loan officers, require documentation of loan pricing decisions, and monitor loan prices for race and national origin disparities not justified by objective borrower credit characteristics or loan features.
“The Justice Department will not hesitate to litigate against lenders to enforce federal fair lending laws where the evidence warrants and to obtain compensation for borrowers who were victims of unlawful lending practices,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “This department is determined to address discriminatory lending practices and to ensure equal credit opportunity for all borrowers in the years to come. We also greatly appreciate our strong partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which worked jointly with the department to prosecute this case.”