General Electric said this week that it reached a tentative agreement with the Department of Justice that it would pay a fine of $1.5 billion for the lending activities of its shuttered subprime lending unit, WMC Mortgage. Last year, the company booked a reserve of $1.5 billion that may be used as a settlement with the DOJ over the company’s subprime lending from 2005 through 2007. When GE first disclosed that it booked the reserve amount, the company said that settlement would stem from an investigation into WMC’s mortgage business that the DOJ launched in late 2015.
According to GE, the DOJ claimed last year that WMC and GE Capital violated FIRREA rules in connection with the lender’s origination and sale of subprime mortgage loans in 2006 and 2007.
GE said that it was exploring whether an “acceptable settlement” could be reached in this matter and as part of that exploration, GE recorded a $1.5 billion reserve to cover the potential settlement, leading to this proposed settlement.
One note of caution though: The DOJ has not released any details on the settlement agreement, and GE said that it merely reached an “agreement in principle,” so it is possible that the settlement could fall apart or change. But it’s likely that at this point that a settlement will come to fruition.