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If processors entered a borrower’s information into a computerized underwriting program and the program raised flags, employees were encouraged to change the numbers, the suit said.

It also said that bonuses were awarded based solely on the number of loans that an employee could generate, not on their quality.

The process led to “widespread falsification” of mortgage data, Mr. Bharara charged. And when Countrywide executives became aware of the dangerously high number of borrowers defaulting, it hid the problem, according to the lawsuit.

In early 2008, for example, Countrywide offered bonuses for employees who could “rebut” the high rate of defaults.

The standards were low, according to the lawsuit: If a review found that the income a borrower listed on his application seemed unreasonable, an employee could rebut the finding “simply by arguing that the stated income was reasonable.”