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Report: BofA, Feds Negotiating $12B Settlement

gavel-n-justiceBank of America is negotiating a settlement of at least $12 billion to end investigations into alleged misconduct related to toxic mortgages, according to media reports.

Citing reports from "people familiar with the negotiations," the Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday that the megabank has been working fervently over the week to come to an agreement with the Justice Department and put an end to speculation on the potential size of the settlement.

Representatives for BofA and for the Justice Department declined to comment on the report.

Though the final numbers remain unconfirmed, if true, the settlement would rival last year's historic $13 billion paid by JPMorgan Chase to resolve similar allegations. It would also come only months after the bank agreed to pay nearly $6 billion to the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Analysts have closely watched legal dealings between major banks and the Justice Department, wondering if last year's massive settlement with JPMorgan might be the start of a more aggressive course taken by the government in pursuing claims of wrongdoing by banks before the crisis.

According to the Journal report, at least $5 billion of the total settlement is expected to go toward consumer relief efforts, including principal reductions, reduced monthly payments, and assistance in removing blight from hard-hit neighborhoods.

However, with government negotiators reportedly pushing for a higher settlement amount, it remains to be seen where the final numbers may land—or if the Justice Department might resort to a lawsuit in the event the agreement falls through.

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