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By Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Bank of America Corp to pay a $1.27 billion penalty for fraud over shoddy mortgages sold by the former Countrywide Financial Corp. U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan ruled after a jury last October found the second-largest U.S. bank liable for the sale by Countrywide of defective loans to government-controlled mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Rakoff also ordered former mid-level Countrywide executive Rebecca Mairone, who was also found liable and was the only individual charged, to pay $1 million, citing her "leading role" in the fraud and calling some of her testimony "implausible." While the bank's penalty was below the $2.1 billion sought by the U.S. Department of Justice, it marks another legal defeat for Bank of America over its disastrous July 2008 purchase of Countrywide, which has cost tens of billions of dollars in litigation, loan buybacks and writedowns. Bank of America has also held talks on another, potentially multi-billion-dollar settlement to resolve separate government probes into mortgage securities, including from Countrywide and its Merrill Lynch unit.
Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled its Xbox game console in China, the first to enter the market after an official ban 14 years ago, even as it faces a Chinese government probe over business practices. China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce said Tuesday it was investigating the US technology firm for "monopoly actions" related to its flagship Windows operating system and Office suite of software. The day after the announcement of the investigation, Microsoft introduced its newest Xbox One model to the potentially vast Chinese market ahead of the official sales launch, which a company representative said would be September 23. "We are deeply committed to deliver the very best games and entertainment experience for fans in China," Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing and strategy officer for Xbox, told reporters at an event billed as a chance to "experience" the Xbox.