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Wells Fargo is getting sued for mortgage discrimination—again

The Wells Fargo logo is displayed outside a home mortgage office in Springfield, Illinois.
AP Photo/Seth Perlman
Lawsuits are gathering like clouds.
Published This article is more than 2 years old.

America’s largest mortgage lender has yet another lawsuit on its hands, this one alleging that it discriminated against black and Hispanic customers.

The suit, filed by the city attorney for Oakland, California, posits that Wells Fargo disproportionately steered minority customers into subprime loans before the financial crisis. The customers would have been qualified for safer, lower-cost home loans had the bank not done so, the city is arguing.

Wells Fargo has already settled such charges in the past, notably suits from Memphis, Tennessee;  Baltimore, Maryland (of “ghetto loan” and “mud people” fame); and others in 2012. But that hasn’t stopped other municipalities from coming after it. Chicago’s county, Cook County, Illinois, just had a suit dismissed in federal court, as did Los Angeles, California. But another suit, brought against Wells Fargo as well as Bank of American and Citigroup by Miami, Florida, was recently revived after an appeal.

A Wells Fargo spokesman wrote in an email that the bank plans to “vigorously defend itself” against the suit.

“The City Attorney’s accusations against Wells Fargo do not reflect how we operate in the communities where we do business,” he wrote, “and it’s disappointing that she has chosen this course of action over a collaborative approach to helping borrowers and home owners in Oakland.”

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