(Source: Wall Street Journal By Alan Zibel) – Title insurance firm Fidelity National Financial Inc. will pay $4.5 million to settle allegations that it paid kickbacks to real-estate agents who referred business to the company. The Department of Housing and Urban Development accused Fidelity National of breaking a federal law that governs the real estate closing process. That law, known as the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, bans companies from paying fees in exchange for business.

HUD alleged that Jacksonville, Fla.-based Fidelity National, one of the largest U.S. title insurance firms with a roughly one-third share of the market, paid fees to real estate brokerages that signed up for an online system that automates the real estate listing and closing process. It alleged that the payments were designed to encourage the real estate agents to use Fidelity National’s settlement services. The agreement requires Fidelity National to stop paying real estate brokers that use the online system.

Source: Wall Street Journal By Alan Zibel

July 11, 2011, 6:35 PM ET

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