Legal jousting between the U.S. government and Quicken Loans Inc. continues Friday over allegations that the Detroit-based mortgage company committed fraud on hundreds of loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, resulting in millions of dollars of losses for the government.
Quicken has vigorously denied the charges and took the rare move of suing the government, accusing the federal agencies of bullying tactics.
On Wednesday, the government filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Detroit to dismiss Quicken’s lawsuit, or, alternately, move the case out of Detroit and into a Washington court.
Washington, D.C., is where the federal government has filed its lawsuit against Quicken, the nation’s second-largest home mortgage lender. On Friday, a federal judge in Washington will consider whether to transfer the federal government’s suit against Quicken to a Detroit courtroom.
The two actions are the latest moves in the dueling lawsuits, both filed last month, between Quicken Loans and the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD.
The government claims that from September 2007 through December 2011, the online mortgage giant knowingly submitted claims for hundreds of improperly underwritten FHA-insured loans. These loans involved inflated appraisals, poor credit risks and borrowers with insufficient incomes. Quicken also failed its obligation to disclose problems with the loans to the FHA, the government alleges.
Quicken founder Dan Gilbert told The Detroit News last month the feds are on a “witch hunt” and sought a “nine-figure settlement” before filing the lawsuit against Quicken. Gilbert called Quicken the “gold standard” of FHA-insured lenders and said the government is building a case by “cherry picking” evidence
Quicken says it’s the largest FHA lender in the U.S. The company closed $140 billion of mortgage volume across all 50 states in 2013-2014.
Much of the government’s 49-page motion filed Wednesday in Detroit argued Quicken’s lawsuit against the feds “boils down to dissatisfaction with the government’s prosecutorial discretion.” The motion argued that the money paid out for the FHA claims came from the U.S. Treasury in Washington, D.C.
Quicken released a statement Thursday saying the Department of Justice filing “was clearly a rushed, transparent legal tactic.”
“Given the facts of this matter, we are confident the court will see through the DOJ’s tactics,” the statement continued.
The Justice Department and HUD declined to comment.