SAN DIEGO (AP) _ A San Diego mortgage lender has agreed to pay $3 million to borrowers in a settlement of allegations that it engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination on the basis of race and national origin, federal prosecutors said.
The proposal would settle claims that Plaza Home Mortgage Inc. charged thousands of African-American and Hispanic borrowers higher fees than white borrowers on wholesale mortgage loans, according to a U.S. Justice Department statement released Friday.
In the proposed settlement, Plaza denied all the allegations and asserted that any differences in pricing were due to legitimate, non-discriminatory factors.
The deal is subject to approval by a court.
Under the requirements outlined in the settlement, Plaza would establish race- and national origin-neutral standards for the assessment of broker fees and monitor its wholesale mortgage loans for potential disparities based on race and national origin. The firm would also conduct fair lending training and continue to operate a community enrichment program designed to address the lack of affordable housing and lending products in minority and underserved communities nationwide.
“We are happy to be able to make this right for the victims, and to send a message that we will protect people of all races and national origins from injustice of any kind,” said Laura Duffy, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California.
The proceeds of the settlement will be used to compensate the African-American and Hispanic victims of Plaza’s alleged discrimination. An independent administrator will be assigned to contact and distribute payments at no cost to borrowers identified as victims.
Plaza cooperated fully with the investigation, the Justice Department said.