Inner City
        Press' Bank Beat Reporter


     Welcome to Inner City Press’ Bank Beat.  We aim to scrutinize the industry, from high to low. Our other Reporters cover Community Reinvestment, the Federal Reserve, and other beats.   ICP has published a (double) book about the Bank Beat-relevant topic of predatory lending - click here for sample chapters, an interactive map, and ordering information. The Washington Post of March 15, 2004, calls Predatory Bender: America in the Aughts "the first novel about predatory lending;" the London Times of April 15, 2004, "A Novel Approach," said it "has a cast of colorful characters." See also, "City Lit: Roman a Klepto [Review of 'Predatory Bender']," by Matt Pacenza, City Limits, Sept.-Oct. 2004. The Pittsburgh City Paper says the 100-page afterword makes the "indispensable point that predatory lending is now being aggressively exported to the rest of the globe." Click here for that review; click here to Search This Site. Click here for Inner City Press' weekday news reports, from the United Nations and elsewhere, which include bank-related topics.

Click here for Inner City Press' weekday news reports, from the United Nations and elsewhere. Click here for a recent BBC piece on Inner City Press' reporting from the United Nations. New: Follow us on TWITTER  Click for March 1, 2011 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption by Inner City Press.  Until next time, for or with more information, contact us.

November 29, 2021

IMF Answered Inner City Press on Bitcoin in El Salvador Now Alleges Risks In Article IV Report

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Video Podcast
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Nov 22 – When the International Monetary Fund held its biweekly embargoed press briefing on September 16, Inner City Press asked about crypto-currency legislation in Ukraine and again El Salvador, about the coup in Guinea and the role of the Venezuela talks in Mexico on release of the SDRs. IMF video and transcript forthcoming.  Spokesperson Gerry Rice responded on each. Podcast here. Short video of Qs on Twitter here.  Now longer YouTube of IMF video here.
Full transcript here.

Inner City Press asked, " what is the IMF's view of Ukraine's move to regulate crypto-currency? Also, the new legislation proposed in Panama, and the implementation of the El Salvador Bitcoin as legal tender bill?" When called on, Inner City Press added that Ukraine would use nuclear reactors' output for mining.

  Rice cited an upcoming virtual mission to Ukraine later this month, and said that on El Salvador, the talks are under Article 4, not for a program, as least at this point.

On November 22, the IMF issued its Article IV report on El Salvador, including that "[e]fforts to improve financial inclusion and raise growth are welcome, but risks arising from Bitcoin as a legal tender, the new payments ecosystem and trading in Bitcoin should be addressed. Crypto-technologies and digital payment systems like Chivo have the potential to make payments more efficient, thereby enhancing financial inclusion and supporting growth. Given Bitcoin’s high price volatility, its use as a legal tender entails significant risks to consumer protection, financial integrity, and financial stability. Its use also gives rise to fiscal contingent liabilities. Because of those risks, Bitcoin should not be used as a legal tender. Staff recommends narrowing the scope of the Bitcoin law and urges strengthening the regulation and supervision of the new payment ecosystem. Like for other e-wallets, Chivo should be required to fully safeguard customers' funds, both in U.S. dollars and Bitcoin, by segregating and ring-fencing reserve assets. Stronger regulation and oversight of the new payment ecosystem should be immediately implemented for consumer protection, anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT), and risk management. Banking regulation should incorporate prudential safeguards such as conservative capital and liquidity requirements related to Bitcoin exposure. Measures to limit fiscal contingent liabilities, such as winding down the trust fund or withdrawing public subsidies to Chivo, should also be promptly considered. Recently announced plans to use the proceeds of new sovereign bond issuances to invest in Bitcoin, and the implications of trading more broadly in Bitcoin, will require a very careful analysis of implications for, and potential risks to, financial stability."

Back on January 8 Inner City Press asked the IMF's Helge Berger, Mission Chief, about China's so-called Belt and Road Initiative: "Your Article IV report cites China's "overseas lending projects" amid "rising geopolitical tensions and economic and trade frictions." How does the IMF think that rising debt levels among African countries, and increased skepticism about the "Belt and Road" will impact or be addressed going forward? -Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press. Video here.
and see, now, the book "Belt and Roadkill," here.

November 22, 2021

To PPP Bank Fraud Muge Ma Pled Guilty Now Seeks To Seal Motion on Expert But Press Opposes

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Podcast
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Nov 16 – Amid mounting fraud in the U.S. Paycheck Protection Program, including banks and non-bank fintech lenders refusing to report the most basic data about what they done with the money, an investigative project of Inner City Press, on May 21, 2020 there was the arrest of Muge Ma, as known as "Hummer Mars," a Chinese national residing in Manhattan.

At 7 pm he was remanded to custody in jail as a risk of flight, see below.

 On September 11, 2020 after various other attempts, Ma tried again before Judge Richard M. Berman. He continued remand but agreed to hear Ma's Constitutional / Sixth Amendment right to counsel arguments, on September 30. Inner City Press live tweeted September 11, here and below.

 On November 16, 2021 after Ma pleaded guilty to Counts 2 and 8 and several times delayed his sentencing, his lawyer sought to seal the entirety of his motion about an expert for sentencing. One the first and last line were left in; four paragraph were redacted.

  Inner City Press immediately filed opposition, seeking unsealing. Watch this site.

   On June 15, 2021 Ma was brought into the courtroom of Judge Berman by two Marshals, for his change of plea proceeding. But it did not go smoothly. When asked to allocute to his crimes, Ma did not want to say that he had intended to defraud the banks.

  Then why was he pleading guilty? And why should he get "acceptance of responsibility" reduction in offense level at sentencing?

  Next, Ma resisted describing his aggravated identity theft. He kept saying that he applied in his own name, but possessed the email of another, with the name in it. Really?

  Then the AUSA and defense counsel had a whispered, non-public sidebar with Judge Berman, after which the allocution was accepted.

November 15, 2021

UN Briber Patrick Ho Used Mashreqbank Which Is Disciplined by FRB As Guterres Bans Press

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, Q&A, HK here

UN GATE, Nov 9 – Four months after the arrest for UN bribery of former Senegalese foreign minister Cheik Gadio and Patrick Ho, the head of China Energy Fund Committee full funded by CEFC China Energy, his ultimate boss at CEFC Ye Jianming was brought in for questioning in China. Among the hooks for the prosecution was payments of alleged bribes not only through HSBC but also Mashreqbank based in Dubai. And on October 10, 2018 Mashreqbank was hit with and settled money laundering charges by the New York State Financial Services Department.

More than three years later on November 9, 2021 the US Federal Reserve announced, "Federal Reserve Board on Tuesday announced it has issued a consent cease and desist order against Mashreqbank psc, of the United Arab Emirates, for having insufficient policies and procedures to ensure that the activities conducted at its offices outside the United States complied with U.S. sanctions laws." Talk about a revolving door. Like immunity at the UN, which impunity has no end, for now.

November 8, 2021

Turkey Halkbank Not Immune 2d Cir Panel Decided So Halkbank Asks Rehearing En Banc

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon, Thread Video
Honduras - The Source - The Root - Podcast

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Nov 5 – Turkey's Halkbank has officially given up its strategy of refusing to official appear in the US criminal case against it, and on February 25, 2020 appeared and agreed to be indicted. Inner City Press live tweeted it here and below.

 On April 12, 2021 with the case stayed pending appeal, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit heard the arguments. Inner City Press live tweeted it, here: [& fast podcast here]

On October 22, 2021, the Second Circuit ruled that Halkbank is NOT immune, and the criminal prosecution will proceed: "This case presents two questions. First, whether a denial of a motion to dismiss a criminal indictment based on the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”) is immediately appealable under the collateral order doctrine. Second, whether FSIA confers immunity on foreign sovereigns from criminal prosecutions. We answer the first question in the affirmative. As to the second, we hold that even if we were to assume that FSIA confers immunity in the criminal context, the offense conduct with which Defendant-Appellant Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. is charged would fall under the commercial activity exception to FSIA. Accordingly, we DENY the Government’s motion to dismiss this appeal, and we AFFIRM the Decision and Order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Richard M. Berman, Judge)." Full order on Inner City Press' DocumentCloud here.

On November 5, Halkbank filed in the Second Circuit for rehearing en banc / by the full Court: PETITION FOR REHEARING/REHEARING EN BANC, on behalf of Appellant Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S., FILED. Service date 11/05/2021 by CM/ECF.[3206843] [20-3499]."

November 1, 2021

HSBC Is Sued By Stryker But Money Laundering For Chapo Excluded for Nov 9 Trial

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 28 –    Richard Stryker sued HSBC and wanted to get into evidence the bank's range of wrongdoing, from money laundering for El Chapo to sanctions violations and, one would have hoped, redlining and predatory lending. But these will not come in.        

  On October 28 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge John G. Koeltl held a proceeding. Inner City Press covered it.  

 The trial is set to begin on November 9, and among expected witnesses are Andrew Ireland and Peter Foglio. But the amended complaint, Docket Number 23, is still sealed.

The case is Stryker v. HSBC Securities USA et al., 16-cv-9424 (Koeltl)

Capital One and Square Are Sued Under EFTA Now Discovery To Nov 2022 in SDNY

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 26 – Gerald Green, as a victim of identity theft, sued Capital One and Square under the federal Electronic Fund Transfer Act.         

  On October 26 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York  Judge Edgardo Ramos held a proceeding. Inner City Press covered it.  

Judge Ramos said amended pleading are due by December 15 - then discovery not until November 2, 2022 "to accommodate for the busy holiday calendar in September 2022).

The case is  Green v. Capital One, N.A. et al., 20-cv-4655 (Ramos) 


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October 25, 2021

National Bank of Pakistan Was Sued For Attack on CIA Base in Khost But Says McLintock Late

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 20 –   National Bank of Pakistan has been sued for its role in supporting or enabling a deadly attack by al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban on CIA Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost province of Afghanistan on December 30, 2009.    

   On October 20 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein held a proceeding. Inner City Press covered it. 

 Judge Hellerstein grilled plaintiffs' counsel on the lack of specificity in the complaint about the National Bank of Pakistan's knowledge.

 National Bank of Pakistan's counsel from White & Case called the plaintiffs opportunists from bringing in a designee of US sanctions, James Alexander McLintock, after they filed their complaint. They have moved to dismiss the complaint.

 The oral argument was to have been held on October 14 but was pushed back due to "the scarcity of court reporting services in the Court."

The case is Brown et al v. National Bank of Pakistan, 19-cv-11876 (Hellerstein)


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State Street Bank Was Sued For Discrimination Now Fact Discovery Through May 2022

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 21 –   Two employees sued State State Bank for discrimination. Then their lawyer had some problems - and now the lead plaintiff, too.

 On September 15, 2020 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Gregory H. Woods held a status conference. Inner City Press covered it.   

State Street's lawyer complained about the plaintiff getting double standards, while purporting to sympathize for their problems. The plaintiffs cite State Street's "notorious male-dominated 'Boston club' culture."

  On October 14, Judge Woods held another conference, and Inner City Press again covered it. Now the lead plaintiff Ksenia Shnyra has asked for more time to complete discovery, citing "my own recent exposure to COVID-19 and the need to quarantine."
  State Street's lawyer countered that the quarantine time could have been used to search through emails and produce discovery.

  On October 21, 2021 Judge Woods held another proceeding. The parties now have submitted a plan under which all fact discovery is to be completed by May 17, 2022.

 The case is Shnyra et al v. State Street Bank and Trust Co., Inc., 19-cv-2420 (Woods)

October 18, 2021

In SDNY Arrest of Nigerians For Bank Fraud One Works For NY Health Dept So No GPS

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 13, Exclusive –   Ten arrests for money laundering and bank fraud were announced on October 13 by the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. Inner City Press went to the SDNY Magistrates Court to report on the presentments and live tweeted here:

... Magistrates Court at 5:33 pm it's jumping. At least four defense lawyers, cops in windbreakers, US Marshals ready to bring defendants in from holding cell.

This case is a triple. Three defendants, three lawyers (one a white shoe firm money laundering lawyer Inner City Press knows from another case), around tables set up in an L shape.

 All rise!

 This is a multi-state multi-defendant bank fraud and money laundering case, announced today by new US Attorney Damian Williams. Inner City Press is alone in the courtroom gallery. US is agreeing to pre-trial release with GPS (for 2 from Nigeria) 

One defendant works for New York Department of Health, is described as having a student visa. (He's said to be Lateef Galoba, whose co-defendant Samsondeen Goloba has yet to be presented).

Judge Sarah Netburn says no GPS, then. The other also contests GPS, white shoe lawyer says the domestic violence charge is bogus but triggered violations proceeding.

  Lawyer adds that defendant studies physical therapy at Essex College, GPS would set off alarms.

Judge agrees. He will be released tonight.

 Earlier it was said, "Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Patrick J. Freaney, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the United States Secret Service , announced today the unsealing of an Indictment charging 11 defendants with conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft, in connection with their involvement in laundering millions of dollars in proceeds derived from business email compromises and romance fraud schemes.

 Nine defendants were arrested today in the District of New Jersey and the Eastern District of New York, and will be presented this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn in the Southern District of New York."  

The case is US v. John, et al., 21-cr-609 (Preska / Netburn). 


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October 11, 2021

Citibank Sold Hang Lee's Loans Then Buyer Didn't Want to Pay for Deposition So SJ Motion

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 7 – Citibank sold its loan to Hangsoon Lee to Absolute Resolution Investments LCC. Soon at her Flushing, Queens apartment Hangsoon Lee got a single spaced debt collections letter she says violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. 

  On August 11, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Gregory H. Woods held a proceeding. Inner City Press covered it. 

 There is a discovery dispute - the defendants want to depose Hangsoon Lee but do not want to pay for a Korean interpreter.

Judge Woods noted the Second Circuit practice of payments, and emphasized that when in doubt, an interpreter should be used.

Now on October 7, another conference was held and Inner City Press again covered it. Judge Woods granted permission for the defendants to file a motion for summary judgment, by November 29.

The case is Lee v. Pressler, Felt & Warshaw, LLP, 21-cv-1348 (Woods)


Your support means a lot. As little as $5 a month helps keep us going and grants you access to exclusive bonus material on our Patreon page. Click here to become a patron.

October 4, 2021

Former CEO Of Iconix Wanted To Exclude Size of Stock Sales But SDNY Jury Will Hear $28M

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Sept 30 – Neil Cole, the brand manager charged with financial chicanery was freed on $1 million bond on December 5, 2019 and allowed to travel throughout the United States by agreement of the US Attorney's Office, contrary to the "SDNY and EDNY only" restrictions they routinely place on less affluent defendants.

SDNY Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses accepted the agreed bail conditions, and said that they can be appealed or asked to be modified before SDNY Judge Edgardo Ramos to whom the case is assigned.

On December 29, the US Attorney's Office opposed Cole's subpoena served on Baked by Melissa, where Seth Horowitz, a Government cooperating witness, was the CEO. The US Attorney's Office says the information sought is not relevant, but rather a fishing expedition.

On January 4 Cole's lawyers at Paul Weiss wrote to Judge Ramos, "We understand that Seth Horowitz, now a cooperating witness for the government, also was scheduled to provide SEC testimony in late 2018, but that at or around the same time that Mr. Cole's testimony was rescheduled, Mr. Horowitz's testimony was canceled, likely at the request of the U.S. Attorney's Office, to prevent Mr. Horowitz from testifying and avoid creating a record that could be helpful to Mr. Cole... In July 2020, counsel for Mr. Cole submission a FOIA request to the SEC."

September 27, 2021

On Saturday Before North Korea Trial Virgil Griffith Dockets Motion About Ethereum GC

By Matthew Russell Lee, Pod Exclusive Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - </