Bank of America has held settlement negotiations with some states over home foreclosures separately from talks with a larger group of state and federal officials, two people familiar with the matter said.
The proposed deal would give the bank liability releases from state and federal claims over its mortgage practices in exchange for reducing loan principals to help struggling homeowners, said the people, who didn't want to be identified because the discussions aren't public.
State and federal officials are negotiating a settlement with the five largest mortgage servicers, including Bank of America, over their servicing and foreclosure practices. Attorneys general from all 50 states began investigating the practices last year.
Bank of America, in its separate negotiations, has offered to fund more principal writedowns than what is being discussed in the larger settlement talks, one of the people said. The bank is seeking a blanket liability release that would be broader than what would be available for the other banks involved in the negotiations, the person said.
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Other attorneys general were unaware of the separate talks with Bank of America, the person said.
Rick Simon, a Bank of America spokesman, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment after regular business hours on Tuesday. A call to the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank's media office also wasn't returned.
Any principal reductions would likely involve borrowers who have to qualify for specific conditions, such as being at least 60 days late, the other person said. The deal could still fall apart and isn't necessarily closer to being completed than a broader agreement involving all the states and all five banks, the person said. Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, declined to comment. Miller is leading negotiations for the 50 state attorneys general.
The other banks involved in the broader talks with state and federal officials are JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial.
Officials are seeking a settlement that sets standards for how the banks service loans, interact with borrowers and conduct foreclosures, according to terms proposed in March. They also want the banks to fund loan modifications for homeowners. The attorneys general announced their investigation after reports that banks were using faulty foreclosure documents.
A push by the banks to win broad liability releases was one of the main obstacles in talks to resolve the nationwide probe, two people briefed on the matter said in July.
The mortgage servicers sought protection from additional state and federal claims over their mortgage practices as part of reaching a settlement that may exceed $20 billion (Dh73.46 billion), according to those people, who declined to be named because the talks are private.
The banks were seeking releases that go beyond servicing of mortgages to include lending and securitisation of loans, one of those people said.
That effort encountered resistance from at least three states: Delaware, New York and Massachusetts. Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden said in July he had "strong reservations" about a deal that provides releases related to practices such as securitisation and lending, because servicing is the focus of the nationwide settlement talks.