California said to share in settlement with Citigroup

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California will share in the U.S. Justice Department’s multibillion-dollar settlement with Citigroup Inc. over defective mortgage investments the Wall Street giant peddled during the housing boom, according to people briefed on the negotiations.

New York is also among several states to receive payments in addition to the federal government, the people said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the negotiations were continuing.

Citigroup would pay roughly $7 billion, with about $4 billion in cash and the rest in the form of mortgage modifications and other consumer relief under the impending settlement, which was first reported Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal.

The exact amounts were still in flux Wednesday and “nothing is cemented,” said one person familiar with the negotiations. Another person briefed on the proceedings said the deal might be announced Monday. Details on how much money would go to each state were not disclosed.

Citigroup had hoped to have an agreement announced before Monday, when it is scheduled to release its second-quarter earnings report, one person said.

A spokeswoman for the New York bank, the nation’s third largest as measured by assets, declined to comment, as did a spokesman for California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris.

Off-and-on negotiations resumed three weeks ago when Associate U.S. Atty. Gen. Tony West, who has spearheaded investigations into the mortgage investments that triggered the financial crisis six years ago, threatened to sue Citigroup if it did not return to the bargaining table.

Similar threats helped to broker a $13-billion settlement in November with JPMorgan Chase & Co. over the packaging, marketing and sale of securities backed by risky mortgages.

Described at the time as the largest settlement with a single entity in U.S. history, the JPMorgan Chase agreement included $299 million to settle claims by California.

It also included $4 billion to repay losses at government-backed mortgage financing giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and $1.4 billion to cover claims involving credit union losses on mortgage securities.

Citigroup, by contrast, already has settled claims by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, representing Fannie and Freddie, by paying $250 million. It also has paid $20.5 million to the National Credit Union Administration to settle claims involving losses at five failed credit unions.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that the settlement would include $4 billion in penalties to be paid by Citigroup.

For more on banking and financial news, follow me on Twitter:@ScottReckard.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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