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BofA Whistleblower Received Non-Profit’s Award for Truth-Telling

Fertel Foundation and the Nation Institute, two non-profits that support whistleblowers, gave its annual Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling to  Eileen Foster, former head of mortgage fraud investigations at Countrywide Financial.  The award was in recognition of her role in reporting Countrywide’s fraudulent mortgage lending operation. Foster was fired by Bank of America (BofA) shortly after the mortgage lender was acquired. 

In her acceptance speech at the Press Club, Ms. Foster said not enough has changed in the U.S. financial system.

“Here we are, several years after the onset of the financial crisis, caused in large part by reckless lending and risk-taking in major financial institutions, and still not one executive has been charged or imprisoned,” Foster said, according to Reuters.

BofA, which took over Countrywide in 2008, has reached several settlements withU.S.prosecutors over alleged fraud and discrimination in Countrywide’s mortgage lending practices. BofA also was among five banks that agreed to a $25 billion joint state and federal mortgage servicing settlement, though the banks did not admit any guilt.

The bank has said it discontinued the mortgage lending practices that were in place at Countrywide before 2008.

After a three-year battle, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration last year ordered Bank of America to reinstate her and pay her nearly $1 million in lost wages and expenses. BofA, however, is appealing the decision, leaving Foster without the job or money.

“Bank of America has objected to OSHA’s determination last year in Ms. Foster’s SOX case and the matter is under appeal,” said a spokesman for the bank in a statement on Thursday.

Foster currently works as vice president for security, investigations and procurement at a credit union inSouthern California.

“I believed that Countrywide had totally duped Bank of America (and) as soon as Bank of America looked at the evidence that I had assembled that they would hire me back,” she said in an interview on Tuesday. “I was naive.”

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