WASHINGTON Bank of America has been ordered to pay a $30 million civil money penalty on allegations that it wrongfully used documents in litigation for debt collection and violated a law protecting members of the military and their families.
The consent orders released Friday by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency claim that the $2 trillion-asset Bank of America had "deficiencies" in its compliance program that was meant ensure military personnel received certain benefits required by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The bank was also cited for mishandling sworn documents that were used for litigating defaulted non-home loans.
The bank has agreed to pay the $30 million penalty without confirming or denying wrongdoing. The OCC has also ordered Bank of America to correct the named compliance issues as well as its overall risk management oversight.
"The unsafe or unsound practices and violations of law identified in this article were, in part, the result of deficiencies in the bank's enterprise compliance risk management function, including deficiencies with respect to independent testing, governance routines, risk assessment, and oversight," the order said. "By reason of the conduct set forth above, the bank recklessly engaged in unsafe or unsound practices and engaged in violations of law, which were part of a pattern of misconduct."
The OCC estimates that 73,000 customers were affected by the named actions. Specifically, Bank of America was cited for not correctly detecting and calculating certain benefits to servicemembers; and making "assertions" through sworn documents filed in litigation to collect defaulted debt.
Bank of America said in a separate release that the litigation practices cited in the order were "from several years ago for a small percentage of credit card and" overdraft customers who had defaulted. The company said it has been addressing the issues since 2011, when they first came to light.
"We have taken significant steps over the last several years, and will take further steps now, to ensure we have the right controls and processes in place to meet and exceed what is required by law and what our customers deserve and expect," Andrew Plepler, Bank of America's global corporate social responsibility and consumer policy executive, said in a press release.