The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has ordered Missouri-based Fidelity Mortgage Corp. and its president, Mark Figert, to pay more than $80,000 for delivering illegal kickbacks to a bank in exchange for real estate referrals. The move follows a series of CFPB actions cracking down on illegal kickbacks in real estate and lending.
“Kickbacks harm consumers by hampering fair market competition and by unnecessarily increasing the costs of getting a mortgage,” said CFPB director Richard Cordray. “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will continue to take action against schemes that steer consumers to lenders through unscrupulous and illegal business practices.” According to the agency, a partner bank referred potential borrowers to Fidelity in exchange for kickbacks disguised as lease payments for renting office space in the bank. The charges were brought under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, a law that prohibits kickbacks for referrals of settlement-service business involving government-backed mortgages.
Under the CFPB's terms, Figert and Fidelity are required to repay all of the proceeds from the illegal referrals, which amount to about $27,000, as well as a civil penalty of $54,000 paid to the bureau.