Before Wells Fargo & Co. agreed Friday to pay $108 million to settle a federal whistleblower case stemming from mortgage refinancing fees illegally billed to the nation’s veterans, the bank mounted “a Stalingrad defense,” fighting for five years after six co-defendant banks had paid $161.7 million, said whistleblower attorney James Butler Jr.

Faced with an August trial in federal court in Atlanta, Wells Fargo surrendered, settling the 11-year-old case with whistleblowers Victor Bibby and Brian Donnelly, both formerly executives at a now-defunct Atlanta mortgage company that specialized in arranging government-guaranteed loans to military veterans.

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