Academy Mortgage settles whistleblower lawsuit for $38.5 million

Former employee will get more than $11 million

Academy Mortgage settles whistleblower lawsuit for $38.5 million

Academy Mortgage has agreed to pay $38.5 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit claiming that the nonbank violated the False Claims Act by improperly originating and underwriting FHA-insured mortgages.

The case was filed in the Northern District of California by former underwriter Gwen Thrower, who sued Academy on the government’s behalf under the False Claims Act. Thrower accused the company of using an underwriting process that led employees to disregard FHA rules and falsely certify compliance with underwriting requirements from January 2008 through April 2017.

The whistleblower further alleged that the government paid insurance claims on the improperly underwritten loans due to Academy’s “knowingly deficient mortgage underwriting practices.”

“Lenders that knowingly cause the government to guarantee loans that are materially deficient put both homeowners and the public fisc at risk,” said Brian Boynton, principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

The Utah-based mortgage company will pay $38.5 million to the US government without admitting or denying liability. The DOJ said there was “no determination of liability” as part of the settlement.

“Despite the US government asking the court to dismiss the case multiple times, Academy made a business decision to settle the case to mitigate additional costs and disruption of further litigation,” Academy Mortgage said in a statement. “As stated by the Department of Justice, ‘The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.’”

Thrower will receive $11,511,500 as her share for bringing the allegations to light.

“The settlement announced today is a result of the relator’s efforts to develop this case in litigation and complements the department’s actions to prevent abuse of government programs designed to foster homeownership,” Boynton said.