Economy

RBS to pay $154 million to settle SEC probe

LONDON (AP) — The Royal Bank of Scotland has reached a $153.7 million settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over an investigation into its mortgage-backed securities.

In a statement Thursday, RBS said the cost of the payments has been covered by provisions already made, but that the terms of the settlement meant it neither admitted nor denied the allegations from the SEC that its prospectus for a 2007 securities offering was "materially misleading."

The settlement is the latest in a series of SEC actions against banks over their sales of risky mortgage-linked securities to investors in the years preceding the 2008 financial crisis. When the real estate bubble burst in 2007, home values plunged and millions of people defaulted on their mortgages and lost their homes. Investors who bought the risky mortgage securities lost billions, a shock that laid the ground for the financial crisis and the deepest global recession since World War II.

Others to have settled with the SEC include Goldman Sachs, which agreed in July 2010 to pay $550 million. And following SEC charges, JPMorgan Chase & Co., the largest U.S. bank by assets, agreed to pay $153.6 million in June 2011 and a further $296.9 million last November. Citigroup Inc. has also agreed to pay $285 million.

The big point of interest about banks behavior at present centers on JPMorgan, which has been negotiating for weeks with the U.S. Justice Department over a settlement of allegations regarding the bank's sales of mortgage securities. JPMorgan has tentatively agreed to pay $13 billion, which would be the largest penalty the government has extracted from a company for actions related to the financial crisis.

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