Why did German and Swiss banks decide to pay USA penalties?

In 2013, the bank had agreed to pay $1.9 billion to settle all allegations that it defrauded United States government-controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - America's biggest providers of housing finance - into buying $14.2 billion in mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis.

It follows months of negotiations with the government, which initially had suggested Deutsche Bank pay $14 billion total to settle the matters.

Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS) has agreed to pay $5.3 billion for its part in the crisis. A third European bank, Barclays, resisted a settlement offer and is now being sued by the Justice Department.

Meanwhile, the Swiss lender said it will pay $2.48bn to settle claims it misled investors in the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis over the sale of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBSs).

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The $14 billion figure caused DB's share price to fall and raised questions about the bank's stability and the risks it posed to the financial system.

Banks typically have settled state cases over mortgage securities at the same time as federal claims, and it appears it would be especially true for the NY case.

According to a recent memo released by the bank, "By agreeing this settlement, we are removing a long-standing uncertainty from Deutsche Bank". The settlement was divided into a $3.1 billion penalty and a pledge to pay $4.1 billion over time to a "consumer relief" fund to be distributed by the government. To date, large lenders in the United States and Europe have agreed to fork over almost $50 billion in fines and consumer relief to the US government to settle claims of wrongdoing.

The settlement was reached after months of negotiation between the bank and the U.S. administration, which had earlier asked the German bank to pay $14 billion total to resolve the issues.

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Deutsche says it will book about a $1.17B pretax charge this quarter as a result of the cash penalty.

Barclays, which has its headquarters in Britain, rejected the claims and said it would seek dismissal of the case.

The suit, filed by the US prosecutor in Brooklyn on Thursday, claims that the bank "caused billions of dollars of losses to investors". That is - the banks would pool thousands of individual home loans and bundle them into a security, of which the bank could then sell shares to investors.

While the fine is on the order of what analysts had expected, the relief component is spread over several years, giving Credit Suisse some leeway not to cough up the entire sum at once.

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