JPMorgan Chase. The largest U.S. bank reached a tentative deal with the Justice Department on Oct. 19 to pay a $13 billion penalty to settle civil charges that it knowingly sold faulty mortgage securities that contributed to the housing crisis. The deal would not absolve JPMorgan from possible criminal liability. If finalized, this would be the largest settlement paid to the federal government by a single company in U.S. history.
KPMG. In 2010, Countrywide's auditor, KPMG, paid $24 million of a $600 million settlement. The lawsuit was filed against Countrywide Financial over the lender's alleged fraudulent mortgage practices, although KPMG had given them a spot-free record. Earlier this year, KPMG and Fannie Mae agreed to split the cost on a $153 million settlement from a 2004 investor class-action lawsuit charging misleading financial statements. As auditor of both mortgage lenders, KPMG allegedly played the role of enabler.
BP: Gulf Oil Spill. Currently the largest settlement in history, BP and the Justice Department reached a settlement of $4.52 billion in fines from the April 2010 disaster aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that claimed 11 lives and triggered what is considered the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The oil company continues to face charges that have so far amounted to about $42.4 billion in criminal and civil settlements and payments to a trust fund.
The Tobacco Industry. In 1998, the five largest U.S. tobacco industries agreed to a $246 billion settlement to be paid to the 50 states over 25 years, until 2025. It aimed to resolve state government claims for the health costs of treating tobacco users in exchange for the companies' exemption from certain lawsuits, including private tort liability.
Black farmers landed the largest civil-rights settlement this month after decades of fighting the Agriculture Department over racial discrimination. The class-action lawsuit ended in a $1.2 billion settlement to compensate black farmers who were denied federal aid from 1981 to 1996.