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Hardly a day goes by without a settlement between a bank and a U.S. government agency or regulator. The latest one is between Bank of America and the government-backed mortgage underwriter Fannie Mae: $3.55 billion in cash; $6.75 billion in repurchases of bad mortgages that Countrywide, later acquired by BoA, sold to Fannie; and an additional $1.3 billion in cash to resolve Fannie’s servicing issues with BoA.

Yet, as in most settlements, BoA did not admit any fault. Was BoA tripped up by bad luck or sloppiness? Or did it and other financial institutions behave with intent to defraud investors?

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