HUD Secretary Ben Carson told lawmakers that overly rigid False Claims Act enforcement had forced lenders to suffer financially for what were just minor errors, but that lenders' fears of being sued were dissipating.
Trump officials have made clear their intent to reexamine how Federal Housing Administration lenders are cited under the False Claims Act, but whether that means lenders can rest easier is an open question.
The HUD secretary’s comment that such use of the False Claims Act was “ridiculous” may delight the mortgage industry but does not bode well for taxpayers or the federal government’s future fraud enforcement efforts.
PHH Corp. will pay the Justice Department $75 million to settle a False Claims Act investigation of its underwriting practices on government-insured mortgages and loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The Trump administration's Justice Department was expected to be less aggressive in its pursuit of False Claims Act cases against the mortgage industry. Instead, its focus has shifted to Federal Housing Administration-insured reverse mortgages.
The Federal Housing Administration's gateway to homeownership could be widened if the Trump administration takes actions to reduce mortgage insurance premiums and clarify lender penalties under the False Claims Act.