Outcome: Millions in Whistleblower Rewards
Tycko & Zavareei LLP partner Renée Brooker was the architect of the Big Lender Initiative while working for the United States Department of Justice and received two awards for her efforts. She received the Civil Division Commendation Award for recovering billions of dollars in mortgage fraud funds and the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency’s Award for Excellence for the $1.2 billion settlement with Wells Fargo Bank. This group of cases was notable for the sizeable recoveries and because all of the banks and mortgage companies publicly admitted wrongdoing. The Big Lender Initiative was driven by the need to protect the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF) from total collapse after the 2007-2008 financial crisis. The MMIF is a federal fund that acts as the insurer of mortgages guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Federal Housing Administration. The MMIF exists to promote homeownership, the bedrock of the American dream. Dozens of financial institutions admitted to knowingly failing to properly underwrite mortgage loans, which, in part, led to the collapse of financial markets. The Justice Department’s investigations received assistance from the individual whistleblowers who reported the fraudulent mortgage loan underwriting. Many of the whistleblowers received rewards of millions and tens of millions of dollars for reporting the fraud.