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JPMorgan whistle-blower gets $64M for mortgage fraud tips

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By Reuters
Friday, March 7, 2014, 6:57 p.m.
 

NEW YORK — A whistle-blower will be paid $63.9 million for providing tips that led to JPMorgan Chase & Co's agreement to pay $614 million and tighten oversight to resolve charges that it defrauded the government into insuring flawed home loans.

The payment to the whistle-blower, Keith Edwards, was disclosed on Friday in a filing with the U.S. district court in Manhattan that formally ended the case.

In the Feb. 4 settlement, JPMorgan admitted that for more than a decade it submitted thousands of mortgages for insurance by the Federal Housing Administration or the Department of Veterans Affairs that did not qualify for government guarantees.

JPMorgan said it had failed to tell the agencies that its own internal reviews had turned up problems.

The government said it ultimately had to cover millions of dollars of losses when some of the bank's loans went sour, resulting in evictions and foreclosures nationwide.

“There were a lot of bad loans made during the financial boom, and the United States taxpayer was left holding the bag through the VA and FHA loan programs,” said Edwards' lawyer, David Wasinger. “Hopefully the settlement sends a message to Wall Street that this conduct is not allowed, and that in the future it will be held accountable.”

Edwards could not immediately be reached for comment.

About $56.5 million of Edwards' award concerns the FHA portion of the case, and $7.4 million concerns the VA portion. Wasinger declined to discuss his legal fees.

Edwards, a Louisiana resident, had worked for JPMorgan or its predecessors from 2003 to 2008, and had been an assistant vice president supervising a government insuring unit.

He originally sued in January 2013 under the federal False Claims Act, which lets individuals sue government contractors and suppliers for allegedly defrauding taxpayers. The Department of Justice later joined as a plaintiff.

Whistle-blowers can recover portions of False Claims Act settlements, which often grow if the government gets involved.

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