Wells Fargo, the fourth-largest US bank by assets, has asked a federal judge to dismiss a government lawsuit against it on the grounds that it violates an earlier state and federal agreement over foreclosure irregularities.
The latest lawsuit, filed in October by Preet Bharara, US attorney for Manhattan, accused the bank of engaging in “reckless” home lending practices that defrauded a government mortgage insurance scheme.
In a Thursday court filing, Wells Fargo alleged that lawsuit amounted to a violation of an accord reached between five of the biggest US banks, 49 states and the federal government over deficient home seizure practices known as “robosigning”.
The settlement in that case, approved by a Washington judge in April, sought to absolve banks including Wells Fargo of liability connected to various mortgage-related matters in exchange for lowering distressed borrowers’ monthly payments.
“A comparison between the allegations in the [New York] complaint and the conduct covered by the US release demonstrates without any doubt that the US is attempting to impose additional liability for the same conduct for which Wells Fargo obtained permanent peace through the very large settlement,” the bank said.
In his lawsuit, Mr Bharara accused the bank of shoddy loan underwriting as it sought to increase profits. The US allegedly lost “hundreds of millions of dollars” through insurance payments made to the bank for defaulted loans the government argued should not have been insured.
In court papers Wells Fargo argued that the government released the bank from liability for the conduct alleged by Mr Bharara.
A spokeswoman for Mr Bharara declined to comment.