Walter Investment Management Corporation will pay $29.63 million for violations of the False Claims Act to settle charges brought by the Department of Justice, saying that several Walter Investment subsidiaries submitted false reverse mortgage claims to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The government says that, from August 2009 to March 2015, Reverse Mortgage Solution, a subsidiary of Walter Investment, with the knowledge and support of its corporate parent, submitted false claims for debenture interest from HUD by failing to properly disclose that it had not met certain deadlines and, therefore, was not entitled to such interest payments.
The government also said that Walter Investment, through its subsidiaries, submitted false claims to HUD for the reimbursement of unlawful referral fees by falsely representing them to be lawful sales commissions.
According to the government, Reverse Mortgage Solution used straw companies to liquidate foreclosed properties.
The DOJ said that upon sale of the foreclosed property, the straw companies split the 6% sales commissions: the real estate agents shared a 5% sales commission and the companies kept a 1% referral fee.
The DOJ said that these straw companies deducted a small fee from the 1% referral fee and paid the rest back to Reverse Mortgage Solution in the form of kickbacks.
Despite that, Reverse Mortgage Solution submitted insurance claims to HUD that included payment for the full 6% sales commission, when the payment actually included a prohibited referral fee.
The resolved allegations were first raised in a lawsuit by Matthew McDonald, a former executive of Reverse Mortgage Solution, under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act.
The False Claims Act permits private individuals to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and to share in any recovery. The False Claims Act also permits the government to intervene in such lawsuits, as it did in this case, the DOJ said.
According to the DOJ, McDonald will receive $5.15 million as his share of the recovery in this case.
This fine is the second fine incurred by Walter Investment on behalf of one of its subsidiaries in the last few months.
In April, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission announced That Green Tree Servicing, another subsidiary of Walter Investment, for “mistreating borrowers” who were attempting to save their homes from foreclosure.
According to the CFPB and the FTC, Green Tree failed to honor modifications for loans transferred from other servicers, demanded payments before providing loss mitigation options, delayed decisions on short sales, and harassed and threatened overdue borrowers.
Green Tree failed consumers who were struggling by prioritizing collecting payments over helping homeowners.
Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers