ABN-Amro Mortgage Group has agreed to pay $41 million for falsifying documents on 28,000 mortgages to make government-secured loans more quickly. Investigators said ABN employees forged the signatures of underwriters who were legally required to certify that each loan met federal standards.

"Today's actions represent an outstanding example of federal partners working together to investigate and enforce compliance with the law," said Julie L. Williams, Chief Counsel and First Senior Deputy Comptroller at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates national banks. The mortgage group is a subsidiary of LaSalle Bank Midwest, N.A., Troy, Michigan.

The settlement is the result of a joint investigation by the OCC and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The probe began after HUD noted suspected improprieties in ABN's processing of Federal Home Administration (FHA) loans.

The federal government found that, from January 2000 through April 2003, AAMG engaged in a pattern of submitting loans to HUD for FHA insurance without proper review and certification, constituting false claims to the government and an unsafe and unsound banking practice.

The civil settlement ends the investigation and individuals will not face criminal prosecutions, an OCC official said, though he added that ABN had "disciplined a number of employees" and instituted a "wholesale shakeup."

ABN, one of the nation's top 10 mortgage lenders, was embarrassed late last year when a courier lost computer tapes containing personal data on thousands of customers. The tapes were later recovered.


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