Inner City Press' Community Reinvestment Reporter

  

     Welcome to Inner City Press’ CRA Report.  Our other Reporters cover the financial services industry, human rights, the Federal Reserve, and other beats.  ICP has published a book about the CRA-relevant topic of predatory lending - click here for sample chapters, a map, and ordering informationCBS MarketWatch of April 23, 2004, says the the novel has "some very funny moments," and that the non-fiction mixes "global statistics and first-person accounts."  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']," City Limits, 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.

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   BloggingHeads.tv  Click for March 1, 2011 BloggingHeads.tv re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption by Inner City Press. 2014: MRL on Beacon Reader  For or with more information, contact us.

October 18, 2021

After Investors Bank Hit With FDIC Conditions, CRA Scams By Stock Yards - Commonwealth

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, Oct 16 – Whether or not the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act will be again enforced until the new Administration and its regulators is an open question. And not only the proposed acquisition of Investors Bank by Citizens Bank NA but also Stock Yards - Commonwealth will be litmus tests.

On October 2, after filing with the FDIC, Inner City Press filed with the Federal Reserve:

"This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the FRB's public comment period on the Applications by Stock Yards Bancorp to acquire Commonwealth Bancshares, Inc., and thereby indirectly acquire Commonwealth Bank and Trust Company, both of Louisville, Kentucky     

 The applicant Stock Yard Bank is getting worse.  In Kentucky in 2020 it made 1431 home loans to whites and only 39 to African Americans (while denying 18application from African Americans, and only 188 from whites - down from 250 in 2019).    Commonwealth Bank & Trust in Kentucky in 2020 made more loans that its putative acquirer, but was also disparate: it made 3358 home loans to whites and 156 to African Americans (while denying 63 application from African Americans, and 459 from whites)."

 Yet despite this disparate record, Stock Yards Bank's response of October 12, by its EVP and CFO T. Clay Stinnett, does not engage with his bank's actual lack of lending to African Americans, instead dismissing HMDA data and talking about "media outreach." Meanwhile despite an October 2 request, only on October 15 did the Fed provide the "public portion" of the application, and even then with portions inappropriately withheld at Stock Yards' request. This is a litmus test that is being failed.

Meanwhile, Investors Bank is one of the most disparate banks in New York State, where in 2020 it made only three mortgage loans to African Americans, while denying fully seven applications from African Americans. By contrast, it made 164 loans to whites while denying only 76 applications from whites.

  Inner City Press raised the 2019 disparities to the FDIC - and on July 30 was contacted by the FDIC that it imposed rare conditions on Investors. Letter here. This has now been raised on Citizens' applications

October 11, 2021

After Investors Bank Hit With FDIC Conditions, Delta of FIFA Scandal Change in Bank Control

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, Oct 9 – Whether or not the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act will be again enforced until the new Administration and its regulators is an open question. And not only the proposed acquisition of Investors Bank by Citizens Bank NA but also an application to change control of the FIFA scandal plagued Delta Bank of New York and Grand Cayman will be litmus tests.

Fair Finance Watch and  Inner City Press have filed with the Federal Reserve:

"This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the FRB's public comment period on the Applications for a controlling stake in scandal-plagued Delta National Bank & Trust to be taken by a series of Brazil-based investors with their own issues.    Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press have closely followed the FIFA corruption cases in which Delta prominently and shamefully figures. See, e.g.,  "One institution, Delta National Bank and Trust company, a small boutique bank that caters to wealthy Latin American clients and has offices in Miami, allegedly played an outsized role in the scandal. Authorities contend that Traffic International, a sports media company based in Brazil, shuffled at least $60 million in bribes and kickbacks to FIFA officials as part of an effort to win broadcast rights to FIFA tournaments and secure sponsorship deals.  Though Traffic also held an account with Citi in Miami, experts say its transfers through Delta should have raised flags, especially given the bank's history of misconduct. In 2003, Delta paid nearly $1 million after it was cited for failing to flag as much as $10 million in transactions tied to Colombian drug traffickers. Brazilian authorities have also launched investigations in the past into other Delta clients.  Related: SwissLeaks: How Banking Giant HSBC Helped 100,000 Rich Clients Dodge Taxes  When banks encounter questionable transactions, they are supposed to file suspicious activity reports. In the eyes of regulators, past scrutiny of a bank's practices should lead to stricter money-laundering measures and more reporting, but it appears that was not the case at Delta. As authorities determine whether charges will eventually be filed against any of the banks named in the indictment, they will likely consider the timespan over which the alleged misconduct occurred. The US says it dates back, in some cases, as long as 25 years."     See generally,  United States v. Webb (1:15-cr-00252) District Court, E.D. New York.

 The Fed has acknowledged receipt; the application says: "The Notificants are: Lucia de Campos Faria Junia de Campos Faria Ziegelmeyer Flávia Faria Vasconcellos Eliana de Campos Faria The FC Family Trust Claudia de Faria Carvalho. as primary beneficiary of the FC Family Trust The White Dahlia Company Inc.. as trustee of the FC Family Trust Interagency Biographical and Financial Reports (the "IBFRs") relating to the Notificants who are natural persons are submitted herewith as Confidential Exhibits II.A. I .a-e. Additional information regarding FC Family Trust and White Dahlia is provided in Confidential Exhibit II.A. i.e. Confidential Exhibit II.A.2 provides additional information regarding Mr. Faria's estate and the Notificants' holdings."

So it's all confidential? Inner City Press has filed a FOIA request.

Meanwhile, Investors Bank is one of the most disparate banks in New York State, where in 2020 it made only three mortgage loans to African Americans, while denying fully seven applications from African Americans. By contrast, it made 164 loans to whites while denying only 76 applications from whites.

  Inner City Press raised the 2019 disparities to the FDIC - and on July 30 was contacted by the FDIC that it imposed rare conditions on Investors. Letter here. This has now been raised on Citizens' application

October 4, 2021

Melrose Credit Union CEO Kaufman Gets 46 Months For Bribes Including From CBS Radio

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, Alamy photos

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Sept 29 – The CEO of Melrose Credit Union Alan Kaufman was arrested at 6 am on July 11, 2019 and presented on bribery charges before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman at 4 pm. Wearing a red polo shirt, he pleaded not guilty.  Inner City Press was there and reported it.

 He agreed to a bail package of a $500,00 bond to be signed by his wife and his son, flying in on July 23 and, among other things, drug testing and treatment if needed. His co-defendant Tony Georgiton must post a $1 million bond and turn in not only his US but also his Greek passport. The next hearing was not until September 4 before SDNY District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan. Inner City Press wrote: It's good to be a banker.

On January 11, 2021, Georgiton had his sentencing, and Inner City Press live tweeted it, below.

On March 31, Kaufman was convicted after a jury trial "for participating in a scheme in which KAUFMAN, who was then the Chief Executive Officer of Melrose Credit Union (“Melrose CU”), accepted rent-free housing and financing for the purchase of his personal residence from Tony Georgiton as a reward for the approval of millions of dollars in loans to Georgiton’s companies at favorable terms.  KAUFMAN was also convicted for accepting lavish vacations, including to Paris and Hawaii, from a media company and other vendors, as a reward  for Melrose CU purchasing increased advertising from those companies.  The jury convicted KAUFMAN today following a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.

Now on September 29, 2021, ALAN KAUFMAN, who at the time of the offense was the chief executive officer of Melrose Credit Union (“Melrose CU”), was sentenced today to 46 months in prison.  KAUFMAN was previously convicted, following a three-week jury trial, of participating in a scheme in which he accepted from Tony Georgiton free housing and hundreds of thousands of dollars in financing for the purchase of his personal residence, after approving millions of dollars in loans to Georgiton’s companies at favorable terms.  KAUFMAN was also convicted for accepting lavish vacations, including to Paris and Hawaii, from CBS Radio after increasing Melrose CU’s advertising purchases at CBS Radio. We aim to have more on this.

September 27, 2021

After Investors Bank Hit With FDIC Conditions, CRA Protest Filed To Fed App by Citizens Bank

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, Sept 25 – Whether or not the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act will be again enforced until the new Administration and its regulators, particularly the Federal Reserve which already in essence runs the OCC and has its chair position in competition, is an open question. And the proposed acquisition of Investors Bank by Citizens Financial will be litmus test.

Investors Bank is one of the most disparate banks in New York State, where in 2020 it made only three mortgage loans to African Americans, while denying fully seven applications from African Americans. By contrast, it made 164 loans to whites while denying only 76 applications from whites.

  Inner City Press raised the 2019 disparities to the FDIC - and on July 30 was contacted by the FDIC that it imposed rare conditions on Investors. Letter here. This has now been raised on Citizens' application, to the Federal Reserve, cc-ing Citizens:

"Re: Timely First Comment Opposing Citizens Financial Group's application to acquire Investors Bancorp, Inc. and thereby indirectly acquire Investors Bank 

Dear Chair Powell, Secretary Misback and others in the FRS: 

This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the FRB's public comment period on the Applications by Citizens Financial Group's application to acquire Investors Bancorp, Inc. and thereby indirectly acquire Investors Bank

  Before getting to the data, be aware that based on Fair Finance Watch's comments to the FDIC about Investors, it recently imposed a condition on Investors. Investors has yet to meaningfully implement the required improvements; this application should not be approved, much less at this time.    The FDIC wrote:

 "Matthew Lee, Esquire Executive Director Inner City Press/Fair Finance Watch  Dear Mr. Lee: We are writing to inform you that the FDIC approved Investors Bank’s application to acquire eight branches from Berkshire Bank. As part of the application review process, we investigated the issues you raised in your e-mail dated January 19, 2019... The Bank will develop and Board approve an Action Plan within 60 days of the  effective date of this Order to ensure that its home mortgage lending adequately  addresses the credit needs of all segments of its market areas. The Action Plan  should include, at a minimum, the following: a. The Bank will regularly monitor application and origination activity of home  mortgage loans in majority-minority census tracts and from Blacks throughout the  Bank’s assessment areas.  b. The Bank will ensure marketing and outreach efforts are inclusive of all communities,  including minority communities within all the Bank’s assessment areas. The  marketing and outreach efforts should focus on home mortgage product awareness.  Marketing activities should use materials and media that reflect the racial and ethnic  composition of the targeted communities. The Bank should also have specific  advertising and outreach goals, and the results of these efforts should be documented,  monitored, and evaluated for effectiveness.  5. Upon Board approval of this Order, the Bank will provide a copy of the signed Order to  the FDIC's New York Regional Office within 30 days.  6. Upon Board approval of such Action Plan, the Bank will provide a copy of the Plan  to the FDIC’s New York Regional Office. 7. The Bank will provide the FDIC’s New York Regional Office with quarterly  updates detailing its progress in meeting the goals listed in the Action Plan."   

Citizens cannot, as of now, be allowed to acquire this hot mess.  As noted:  The applicant Citizens in 2020 in New York State based on its disparate marketing made 7183 mortgage loans to whites, with 3116 denials to whites -- while making only 323 loans to African Americans, with more than that in denials: 336.  

  Here's some of Investors' 2020 HMDA data:  Investors Bank in 2020 in New York State based on its disparate marketing made 164 mortgage loans to whites, with 76 denials to whites -- while making only THREE loans to African Americans, with SEVEN denials. This is far out of keeping with the demographics, and other lenders, in NYS - this is outrageous.

This is a pattern. Investors Bank in 2020 in New Jersey based on its disparate marketing made 1580 mortgage loans to whites, with 281 denials to whites -- while making only 64 loans to African Americans, with 28 denials. This is far out of keeping with the demographics, and other lenders, in New Jersey. The comment period should be extended; evidentiary hearings should be held; and on the current record, the application should not be approved."

Watch this site.

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September 20, 2021

Our sweet Kentucky home - but for the redlining: "This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the FDIC's public comment period on the Applications by Stock Yards Bank to acquire Commonwealth Bank & Trust.      The applicant Stock Yard Bank in Kentucky in 2022 made 1431 home loans to whites and only 39 to African Americans (while denying 18application from African Americans, and only 188 from whites - down from 250 in 2019).    Commonwealth Bank & Trust in Kentucky in 2020 made more loans that its putative acquirer, but was also disparate: it made 3358 home loans to whites and 156 to African Americans (while denying 63 application from African Americans, and 459 from whites). There is no public benefit to this proposal.     FFW and Inner City Press have been deeply concerned about the rush by the FDIC's penchant to rubberstamp mergers by redliners, particularly during the pandemic. We timely request public hearings."

September 13, 2021

After Investors Bank Hit With FDIC Conditions, CRA Protest Filed To Deal With Citizens Bank

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, Sept 11 – Whether or not the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act will be again enforced until the new Administration and its regulators is an open question. And the proposed acquisition of Investors Bank by Citizens Bank NA will be litmus test.

Investors Bank is one of the most disparate banks in New York State, where in 2020 it made only three mortgage loans to African Americans, while denying fully seven applications from African Americans. By contrast, it made 164 loans to whites while denying only 76 applications from whites.

  Inner City Press raised the 2019 disparities to the FDIC - and on July 30 was contacted by the FDIC that it imposed rare conditions on Investors. Letter here. This has now been raised on Citizens' application, to the OCC:

"Re: Timely First Comment Opposing Citizens to acquire Investors Bank

Dear Ms. Cummings and others in the OCC, including at "Large Banks": 

This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the OCC's public comment period on the Applications by Citizens to acquire Investors Bank.  

  Before getting to the data, be aware that based on Fair Finance Watch's comments to the FDIC about Investors, it recently imposed a condition on Investors. Investors has yet to meaningfully implement the required improvements; this application should not be approved, much less at this time.    The FDIC wrote:

 "Matthew Lee, Esquire Executive Director Inner City Press/Fair Finance Watch  Dear Mr. Lee: We are writing to inform you that the FDIC approved Investors Bank’s application to acquire eight branches from Berkshire Bank. As part of the application review process, we investigated the issues you raised in your e-mail dated January 19, 2019... The Bank will develop and Board approve an Action Plan within 60 days of the  effective date of this Order to ensure that its home mortgage lending adequately  addresses the credit needs of all segments of its market areas. The Action Plan  should include, at a minimum, the following: a. The Bank will regularly monitor application and origination activity of home  mortgage loans in majority-minority census tracts and from Blacks throughout the  Bank’s assessment areas.  b. The Bank will ensure marketing and outreach efforts are inclusive of all communities,  including minority communities within all the Bank’s assessment areas. The  marketing and outreach efforts should focus on home mortgage product awareness.  Marketing activities should use materials and media that reflect the racial and ethnic  composition of the targeted communities. The Bank should also have specific  advertising and outreach goals, and the results of these efforts should be documented,  monitored, and evaluated for effectiveness.  5. Upon Board approval of this Order, the Bank will provide a copy of the signed Order to  the FDIC's New York Regional Office within 30 days.  6. Upon Board approval of such Action Plan, the Bank will provide a copy of the Plan  to the FDIC’s New York Regional Office. 7. The Bank will provide the FDIC’s New York Regional Office with quarterly  updates detailing its progress in meeting the goals listed in the Action Plan."   

Citizens cannot, as of now, be allowed to acquire this hot mess.  As noted:  The applicant Citizens in 2020 in New York State based on its disparate marketing made 7183 mortgage loans to whites, with 3116 denials to whites -- while making only 323 loans to African Americans, with more than that in denials: 336.  

  Here's some of Investors' 2020 HMDA data:  Investors Bank in 2020 in New York State based on its disparate marketing made 164 mortgage loans to whites, with 76 denials to whites -- while making only THREE loans to African Americans, with SEVEN denials. This is far out of keeping with the demographics, and other lenders, in NYS - this is outrageous.

This is a pattern. Investors Bank in 2020 in New Jersey based on its disparate marketing made 1580 mortgage loans to whites, with 281 denials to whites -- while making only 64 loans to African Americans, with 28 denials. This is far out of keeping with the demographics, and other lenders, in New Jersey. The comment period should be extended; evidentiary hearings should be held; and on the current record, the application should not be approved."

Watch this site.

September 6, 2021

OCC Protest of South State-Atlantic Capital Under CRA, How Will Hsu Differ from Before?

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, Sept 4 – Whether or not the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act will be again enforced until the new Administration and its regulators is an open question.

Now the proposed acquisition by South State of Atlantic Capital Bank in Georgia will be a litmus test. South State is so disparate that in South Carolina in 2020 for mortgage loans to African Americans it had more denials (147) than loans made (133) - while making six loans to whites for every denial to a white applicant.

On August 17, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press on the FOIA) filed a comment with the Federal Reserve Board, below.

Now on September 4, Fair Finance Watch has commented to the Office of the Comptroller Currency, which some say has changed for the better. We'll see.

As to the Fed, which denies FOIA requests after five months, here, on August 25, this strange response: "Dear Mr. Lee,     This is to acknowledge receipt of your email to the Office of the Secretary for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board) dated August 17, 2021, regarding the proposal of South State Corporation to merge with Atlantic Capital Bancshares, Inc., and thereby indirectly acquire Atlantic Capital Bank, NA.  To date, South State Corporation has not filed an application with the Federal Reserve System.  Currently, the public comment period for the proposal will end on September 20, 2021. 

   If an application is filed within the next three months from the date your comment was sent, your correspondence will be made part of the record, and the Board will evaluate your comment.  We will also send a copy of the public portions of the application as soon as possible after the application is received.     Sincerely,     Jennifer Snow  Senior Examiner  Supervision, Regulation, and Credit  Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta     Integrity. Excellence. Respect."

How can there be a comment period with expiration date, if there is no application? Inner City Press asked, and on August 26 is told:

"Our procedures provide that advance notice in the Federal Register may be requested in advance of a filing. The comment period end date applies to the Federal Register notice, which was filed in advance of the application being filed."

   What - the comment period running to its conclusion, before any application to comment on is available? This seems far too bank-friendly. How does it relate to the administration's Antitrust Memo? Watch this site.

August 30, 2021

AOC Cites Need for Public Alternative To Credit Reports As Inner City Press Asks of CRA

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

NEW YORK, SDNY & EDNY, August 27 – The difference between retail and wholesale politics was again on display Friday night, in a town hall to The Bronx and Queens, when Inner City Press asked if  the Biden Administration is yet doing enough about bank redlining. (Video to come).

   Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez held a Zoom town hall, after which she took press questions.

  Inner City Press asked, ""Does Rep. Ocasio-Cortez think the administration's bank regulators have moved fast enough to increase scrutiny of redlining, predatory lending and other abuses?"

  Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said, in short, No. Acknowledging that it only scraped the surface, she said credit reporting agencies and banks have a conflict of interest: they profit from keeping consumers' credit scores down. She said there should be a public alternative - and invited Inner City Press (and presumably Fair Finance Watch) to specify work that needs to be done. That would be, bank-friendly merger reviews which have weakened the Community Reinvestment Act. We'll have more on that - and on the UN's continuing ban on Inner City Press.

 Inner City Press on August 27 also submitted a question about the United Nations - not answer answered - while the head of UN Media Accreditation Melissa Fleming continues to ban Bronx-based Inner City Press from even entering again to ask questions. This must be addressed before UNGA Week, September 21.

August 23, 2021

CRA Protest to South State - Atlantic Capital Shows Disparities In Georgia, Florida & SC

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, August 17 – Whether or not the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act will be again enforced until the new Administration and its regulators is an open question.

Now the proposed acquisition by South State Corporation of Atlantic Capital Bank in Georgia will be a litmus test. South State is so disparate that in South Carolina in 2020 for mortgage loans to African Americans it had more denials (147) than loans made (133) - while making six loans to whites for every denial to a white applicant.

On August 17, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press on the FOIA) filed this with the Federal Reserve Board:

Dear Chair Powell, Secretary Misback and others in the FRS:   This is  a timely first comment opposing the Applications of South State Corporation to merge with Atlantic Capital Bancshares, Inc., and thereby indirectly acquire Atlantic Capital Bank, NA .

 Fair Finance Watch has been tracking South State Bank NA:  The applicant's South State Bank NA in 2020 in Florida based on its disparate marketing made 5721 mortgage loans to whites, with 1019 denials to whites -- while making only 143 loans to African Americans, with 48 denials. This is far out of keeping with the demographics, and other lenders, in Florida - this is outrageous. 

This is a pattern. South State Bank NA in 2020 in South Carolina based on its disparate marketing made 3048 mortgage loans to whites, with 537 denials to whites -- while making only 133 loans to African Americans, with fully 147 denials. This is far out of keeping with the demographics, and other lenders, in South Carolina. The denials to African Americans are... outrageous.   

Perhaps most relevant, South State is disparate in the state it is trying to make this acquisition to impose and expand its practices. South State Bank NA in 2020 in Georgia based on its disparate marketing made 4068 mortgage loans to whites, with 451 denials to whites -- while making only 494 loans to African Americans, with 120 denials. This is far out of keeping with the demographics, and other lenders, in Georgia - this is outrageous.

 The comment period should be extended; evidentiary hearings should be held; and on the current record, the application should not be approved.


 Inner City Press (and Fair Finance Watch, on the HMDA) will have more to say about this. Watch this site.

August 16, 2021

Valley National - Westchester Bank Is Protested to NYS DFS Lacewell On Lending Disparities

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