Tax prep giant H&R Block Inc. announced that a federal judge has approved a $39-million settlement of a class-action lawsuit brought by customers over the company's refund anticipation loans.

A U.S. district court judge approved the settlement, the group's third effort to reach a agreement in the suit, which has dragged on since 1998. Block and co-defendant Beneficial National Bank -- now owned by London-based HSBC -- will split the payment.

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