In two of the biggest civil settlements since the financial crisis, the nation's biggest banks agreed Monday to cough up nearly $19 billion to resolve federal allegations of mortgage misdeeds.
Bankers saw the settlements as a major step in providing more certainty for their balance sheets and possibly foreshadowing an end to the era of billion-dollar mea culpas and open-ended regulatory probes.
In one case, 10 banks settled with regulators for $8.5 billion. In the second, Bank of America Corp. agreed to pay almost $10.4 billion to Fannie Mae, the giant loan buyer that the U.S. seized and propped up with tens of billions of taxpayer dollars.
The deals come three years after prosecutors dropped criminal investigations against such subprime-mortgage kingpins as Countrywide Financial Corp.'s Angelo Mozilo in favor of pursuing civil fines.