The person who perhaps made it possible for state and federal governments to collect billions from the Bank of America will apparently be amply compensated for his actions. The New York Times is reporting that Edward O'Donnell, a former employee at Countrywide Mortgage which was purchased by the bank in 2008, will receive a whistle-blower reward of more than $57 MILLION for his role in an August civil settlement.
Bank of America agreed to pay $16.65 billion in penalties to settle claims from federal prosecutors and several state attorneys general. The bank was sued as successor in interest to Countrywide, one of the largest mortgage lenders in the country at the beginning of the century, has been repeated accused, along with its founder and CEO Angelo Mozilo of writing and selling shoddy mortgages.
O'Donnell is receiving the award because of a federal civil lawsuit he filed under the False Claims Act and which the federal government joined and used as the basis for pushing Bank of America into a settlement. His reward comes from a $350 million portion of the larger penalty amount resulting from a settlement between the bank and federal prosecutors along with the states of California, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, and New York. It was ruled that O'Donnell was entitled to a 16 percent share of that portion. He will also collect an additional and separate $1.6 million from the Bank of America.
The Times said O'Donnell may not be the only whistleblower to profit from the settlement. Court papers mention three other similar false-claims lawsuits against the bank. Those litigants were not named in the suit but O'Donnell had not been previously identified either.
O'Donnell was also instrumental in the October 2013 settlement of government claims against Bank of America for the so-called "hustle" program in which Countrywide loan officers were rewarded for the number of loans they produced regardless of their quality. Bank of America was ordered to pay $1.27 billion in that case. O'Donnell's attorney was quoted by the Times as saying his client had not yet reached a financial agreement with the federal government regarding his role in that case.