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Feds investigating PNC over pricing

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POSTED August 15, 2013 11:33 p.m.

NEW YORK (AP) — PNC Financial Services said Thursday that the Justice Department and federal regulators are examining some of its mortgage-related practices, including how it priced mortgage loans.

The Pittsburgh-based bank said in a regulatory filing that the Justice Department’s civil rights division and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are investigating whether the way mortgages were priced by National City and PNC “had a disparate impact on protected classes” of homeowners.

PNC didn’t give details, and a spokesman declined to comment. But the language in the filing could mean the government thinks that individuals belonging to certain ethnic groups or income levels were unfairly affected by mortgage lending practices of National City or PNC. PNC bought National City in 2008.

The CFPB told the bank in June that it had authorized settlement negotiations. The Justice Department told the bank that it had authorized the filing of a civil complaint. PNC said it “continues to cooperate with the agencies’ investigation.”

In a separate probe, PNC said it was subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan for information about “claims for foreclosure expenses that are incurred in connection with the foreclosure of loans insured or guaranteed by” the Federal Housing Administration or the government-sponsored mortgage lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

PNC didn’t give details. But when a bank sells a mortgage loan to Fannie or Freddie, the bank typically continues to service the mortgage — collecting and processing payments — while Fannie or Freddie is the owner. If the loan defaults and is foreclosed, Fannie or Freddie would reimburse the bank for related expenses, such as legal fees or maintaining a vacant home.

In the filing, PNC said the inquiry is in its early stage, and that it is cooperating. A subpoena is a request for information and does not necessarily indicate wrongdoing.

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