Goldman to settle federal mortgage probe for $5.1 billion

Goldman Sachs Group (GS) has agreed to settle a government investigation into how it handled mortgage-backed securities for about $5.1 billion, the firm said Thursday.

The investment bank will pay a $2.39 billion civil penalty, make $875 million in cash payments and provide $1.8 billion in consumer relief, Goldman said in a news release. The latter will include principal forgiveness for underwater homeowners and distressed borrowers, the firm said.

The accord, which has yet to be finalized, would resolve claims by the Department of Justice and several state attorneys general, and would reduce Goldman's fourth-quarter profit by about $1.5 billion, the banking giant said.

"We are pleased to have reached an agreement in principle to resolve these matters," Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein said in a statement.

The deal is part of an effort by U.S. authorities to hold Wall Street companies accountable for the 2008 financial crisis. Under separate settlements with the government, Wall street firms JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Bank of America (BAC) and Citigroup (C) have agreed to pay $37 billion in cash and relief to consumers.

In February, Morgan Stanley (MS) announced a proposed $2.6 billion agreement with the Justice Department to halt probes into its mortgage-back securities dealings, but that case remains unresolved.