LEGAL ACTION
GE to pay $1.5 billion to settle mortgage case

General Electric will pay a $1.5 billion civil fine to resolve a long-running U.S. probe into defective subprime mortgages from its former WMC Mortgage unit before the 2008 global financial crisis.

The Justice Department on Friday said the accord resolves claims that GE concealed the poor quality of the loans and WMC’s lax fraud controls when packaging the loans into residential mortgage-backed securities sold to investors.

GE did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement.

WMC was acquired by GE’s finance unit, General Electric Capital, in 2004 and originated more than $65 billion of mortgage loans in the next three years.

The Justice Department said WMC overstated the quality of a majority of loans it packaged into residential mortgage-backed securities and its fraudulent practices resulted in billions of dollars of investor losses.

Boston-based GE in January had announced an agreement in principle for the settlement and already set aside $1.5 billion. GE sold WMC in late 2007.

“This is another step in our ongoing efforts to de-risk GE Capital,” GE said in a statement. “This agreement represents a significant part of the total legacy exposure associated with WMC and we are pleased to put this matter behind us.”

— Reuters

AUTO INDUSTRY
Safety agency will review Nissan Rogues

The U.S. auto safety agency is probing reports of potential unintended braking in 675,000 2017 and 2018 Nissan Rogue vehicles, it said on Friday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it is opening a defect petition review in response to a request by the Center for Auto Safety.

The agency will look at reports of the vehicles’ automatic emergency braking system engaging with no apparent obstruction in the vehicle’s path. There are no reports of injuries or deaths associated with the petition.

Nissan said it had investigated the issue extensively and after talks with NHTSA, as well as its Canadian counterpart, Transport Canada, it had notified all affected Rogue vehicle customers in the United States and Canada of a software update.

“As always, Nissan will continue to work collaboratively with NHTSA and Transport Canada on all matters of product safety,” Nissan said.

Nissan faces a class-action lawsuit over unintended braking issues in U.S. District Court in California covering Nissan and Infiniti vehicles sold since 2015. The suit says a defect can trigger the brakes and cause vehicles “to abruptly slow down or come to a complete stop in the middle of traffic.”

— Reuters

Also in Business

The European Union is considering hitting U.S. goods ranging from handbags to helicopters with retaliatory tariffs to the tune of $11.5 billion in a dispute over subsidies to Boeing, according to a draft list seen by Bloomberg News. The plan follows a U.S. threat to seek $11 billion in damages through duties on European goods ranging from helicopters to cheeses to counter state aid to Airbus. Both moves stem from parallel 14-year-old disputes at the World Trade Organization over market-distorting support for aircraft makers.

Delta Air Lines will reduce the amount that seats recline on some planes by about two inches, aiming to preserve the workspace of multitasking business travelers. The first Airbus A320s to get the modified seats will debut this weekend, the carrier said Friday. The distance that seats recline will drop to 3.5 inches from 5.4 inches in first class, and to two inches from four inches in Comfort Plus and coach.

Denmark has reported the local operations of auditors KPMG and Ernst & Young to the police amid a widening crackdown on money laundering in the country. Ernst & Young is being investigated for failing to alert the authorities to red flags linked to the laundering case on Danske Bank's Estonian branch. KPMG was the auditor of Kobenhavns Andelskasse, a small local lender that was shut down last year amid concerns it was systematically used for money laundering.

Bristol-Myers Squibb's shareholders voted to approve the drugmaker's $74 billion takeover of biotech Celgene on Friday despite a campaign by activist hedge fund Starboard Value to scuttle the deal.

— From news services