Royal Bank of Scotland Group has settled another case arising out of its sale of toxic mortgage-backed securities for a record amount, agreeing to pay the U.S. $4.9 billion.
The Justice Department said the penalty was the largest it had ever imposed for financial crisis-era misconduct at a bank under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989.
Before the crisis, RBS was the world’s third-largest underwriter of residential mortgage-backed securities by dollar volume. The government alleged that between 2005 and 2008, it underwrote and issued RMBS that have so far lost more than $49 billion, with more than $5.6 billion in future losses still expected to occur.
“Many Americans suffered lasting economic harm as a result of the 2008 financial crisis,” Acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio said in a news release.
“This settlement holds RBS accountable for serious misconduct that contributed to that financial crisis, and it sends an important message that the Department of Justice will pursue financial institutions that illicitly harm the American economy and our consumers,” he added.
According to Reuters, the settlement is one of the “last big milestones in RBS’s decade-long journey back to normality. The looming Justice Department fine had weighed on the bank’s share price and prevented it from paying out to its shareholders.”
The bank had previously reached a $5.5 billion settlement over toxic RMBS with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the conservator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and a $1.1 billion with U.S. National Credit Union Administration.
“There is no place for the sort of unacceptable behavior alleged by the DoJ at the bank we are building today,” RBS Chief Executive Ross McEwan said.
In a statement of facts attached to the settlement agreement, the DoJ said RBS “underwrote RMBS backed by home mortgages with a high risk of default, and then made false and misleading representations to sell those RMBS to investors.”
The statement quoted the bank’s chief credit officer in the U.S. as saying that its RMBS contained “total f***ing garbage” loans.