LA sues Bank of America, alleges discriminatory mortgage lending

Reuters
A woman walks past as customers use ATMs at a Bank of America banking center in New York's financial district
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A woman walks past as customers use ATMs at a Bank of America banking center in New York's financial district January 17, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - The city of Los Angeles has filed a lawsuit against Bank of America (BAC) in U.S. federal court in California, accusing it of discriminatory mortgage lending in the city's minority communities.

The lawsuit, filed by City Attorney Michael Feuer, accused the bank of engaging in a "continuous pattern and practice of mortgage discrimination" since at least 2004, according to a court filing.

A spokesman for Bank of America could not immediately be reached for comment.

The complaint alleged that the bank's practices led to a wave of foreclosures in minority neighborhoods that continued to hurt the city's property tax revenues and increased the need for city services.

It seeks damages caused by the bank's alleged discriminatory practices, including lost revenue.

Major banks are fighting multiple legal battles related to their mortgage lending practices. On Monday, Bank of America said it would pay $404 million to Freddie Mac to resolve liabilities on home loans sold to the government-controlled mortgage company.

Friday's complaint accused the bank of refusing to extend mortgage credit to minority borrowers on equal terms as offered to other borrowers or extending credit on predatory terms. It said the practices placed vulnerable borrowers in loans they could not afford, including subprime loans.

Similar lawsuits were filed on Thursday against Citigroup Inc (NYS:C) and Wells Fargo (WFC). Spokeswomen for both banks told Reuters the suits were without merit.

The case is City of Los Angeles v Bank of America Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Central District of California

(Reporting by Dena Aubin in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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