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.

April 22, 2019

As Otting Targets CRA He Changed FOIA Fee Policy To Hinder Coverage Reversed on Appeal Still No Docs

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

NEW YORK CITY, April 19 – The US Treasury Department is the next stage of a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt when he was at the US Environmental Protection Agency or Ryan Zinke at Interior, is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's (OCC's) Joseph Otting. This Spring Otting, in order to hinder Press coverage of how many banks he meets with by changing the OCC's long standing FOIA fee waiver policy, is saying he will make it harder to get CRA information too. This is the "new" OCC - see its letter on new policies, below.  After Inner City Press appealed, twice, this has been reversed as to Otting's scheduled - but still as of the end of the week on Friday, April 19 not a single one of the long ago requested documents has been received. For the record, "Matthew Lee, Esq. Executive Director, Inner City Press/ Fair Finance Watch P.O. Box 20047 New York, NY 10017  Subject: Freedom of Information Act Appeal No. 2019-00004  Dear Mr. Lee:  I am writing in response to your correspondence of February 11, 2019, and March 8, 2019. In your correspondence, you sought to appeal the OCC's denial of your request for a fee waiver in connection with your request or information pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552, as amended (FOIA)(numbered 2019-00104).  The FOIA does not provide an explicit right to appeal the denial of a fee waiver, The OCC's FOIA regulations also do not provide such a right. See 12 C.F.R. 4.15(d)(1). Moreover, I am not aware of any legal precedent holding that a denial of a fee waiver is an appealable "adverse determination” pursuant to the FOLA or otherwise requiring any federal agency to consider an appeal of a fee waiver denial.  Nonetheless, the OCC, in its discretion, has considered your appeal. While you did not meet the legal standard in section 552(a)(4)(A)(iii) of the FOIA to justify the granting of a fee waiver in your initial FOIA request or in your February 11 correspondence, your correspondence of March 8 is more robust and sets forth with reasonable specificity the grounds to justify the OCC's granting of the fee waiver. Therefore, your request for a fee waiver with respect to FOLA request 2019-00104 is granted. The OCC's Disclosure Services office will remove the matter from "Hold" status and proceed to process the request.  Sincerely,  Rao  Bao Nguyen Principal Deputy Chief Counsel Office of the Comptroller of the Currency." Otting's OCC still says it will not consider public comments on "Business Combination" applications on which public comments have always in the past been considered, for example this one on a Long Island bank trying to take over Chinatown FSB, here. Now they write again, to pretend that it is not a new policy, and that the US Administrative Procedure Act does not apply to changes of agency policy, particularly to protect and censor for a new head of agency.

April 15, 2019

As Otting Targets CRA He Refused Inner City Press Chinatown Comment Now Rep Katie Porter Letter

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

NEW YORK CITY, April 10 – The US Treasury Department is the next stage of a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt when he was at the US Environmental Protection Agency or Ryan Zinke at Interior, is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's (OCC's) Joseph Otting. He has gone beyond overall attempts to underling the CRA to refusing public comment on the type of business combination applications on which comment has in the past been accepted and considered. Photo here. In fact, his OCC's refusal comes on application for which a public comment period was specifically listed on the agency's website.

So Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch wrote to the OCC, including Stephen Lybarger, as follows:  "Thanks for emailing this letter but I must say, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch it deeply concerned by, and hereby opposes it.  Heretofore our comment on just such Business Combination proposals HAVE been considered by the OCC. If under Comptroller Otting the OCC is changing its longtime practice it needs to do a notice and comment process under the APA. This is lawless.  In this case, the proposal we commented on specifically provides for a comment period: Please retract your letter and consider appropriately our comment, or explain in writing why.  Please confirm receipt of these requests."

  The OCC has not responded or reversed itself to consider the comments, even as Inner City Press pursues Chinatown FSB documents at agencies which don't problematize such requests for bogus FOIA fee waiver issues. Now Rep. Katie Porter has written to Otting, including "If the OCC fails to consider community group comments during a merger-approval process, that would directly contradict the law. 12 CFR 8 5.33 also states: “When the OCC evaluates an application for a business combination under the Community Reinvestment Act, the OCC also considers the performance of the applicant and the other depository institutions involved in the business combination in helping to meet the credit needs of the relevant communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, consistent with safe and sound banking practices." 2. How are your proposed changes to community group comment consideration during the  merger-approval process consistent with 12 CFR § 5.33?  ... See,David Dayen, "The Fake Public Comments Supporting A Bank Merger Are Coming From Inside the House," The Intercept (September 2018), here. 3. Do you intend to recuse yourself from the new rule-making, given the irregularities  confirmed in One West's CRA review process while you were CEO? If not, how will you engage in this rule-making without prejudice extending from your experience with the One West/CIT merger? Community groups submit their comments during the merger-approval process with the specific i Please respond to these inquiries in writing by April 15th." Watch this site.

April 8, 2019

After Fair Finance Watch Protest to Ameris Bank Takeover Of Fidelity Fed Has Questions

By Matthew R. Lee, Patreon

NEW YORK, April 4 – The bank with the worst record in the United States for gouging consumers with overdraft fees, Ameris, has applied to the Federal Reserve to buy Fidelity Southern Corporation and its Fidelity Bank, both in Atlanta. On March 2, Fair Finance Watch filed formal opposition with the Federal Reserve Board, whose chairman Jerome Powell has insisted that the Fed is not just a rubber stamper of all mergers, citing the gouging, Ameris' disparate mortgage lending record in Atlanta, Georgia and Florida, and the Community Reinvestment Act. See below. Now the Fed has asked Ameris questions, including: "5)    The Community Reinvestment Act performance evaluation for Ameris Bank as of October 2016 stated that Ameris Bank “demonstrated poor responsiveness in meeting the community development investment needs in the Atlanta MSA.”  Please discuss any subsequent efforts to improve this performance, and please discuss any community development investment plans for the combined bank." Why should a bank already demonstrably poor in Atlanta be allowed to buy another bank there? Without even an evidentiary hearing? The Fed's question letter also zeroes in on some of the inconsistencies that have characterized Ameris' recent interactions with regulator, for example asking: "1)    The Application indicates that immediately prior to the effective time of the merger of FSC with and into Applicant (“Merger”), FSC’s outstanding common stock will be converted into the right to receive 0.80 shares of Applicant’s common stock.  However, for question 10c of the Application, which requests a current and pro forma shareholder list if the proposed transaction will result in a change in ownership, Applicant answered “not applicable.”    a.    Please address this discrepancy.    b.    If yes, provide a current and, if different, pro forma list of Applicant’s shareholders that will hold a 5 percent or more ownership interest, identifying the percentage of voting interests and total equity of Applicant held by each shareholder or group of shareholders.   2)    The Application indicates the Merger will be funded through the issuance of approximately 22 million shares of Applicant’s common stock.  Please revise the response to question 10d of the Application to address this statement.    3)    The Application indicates Fidelity Bank has branches in states other than Applicant’s home state of Georgia.  Accordingly, please revise the response to question 21 of the Application." This is not the first time Ameris' applications to the Fed have contained falsehoods.  As Inner City Press previously exclusively reported it turned out, from Ameris' response, that its application was false when it said it would continue the CRA policies of Atlantic - see full response on Patreon, here, question 3. Inner City Press requested records under the Freedom of Information Act - a process on which the Fed is increasingly slow, perhaps taking its lead from Comptroller Joe Otting who is now trying to hinder even getting copies of merger applications from the OCC. We'll have more on this.

April 1, 2019

Wells Fargo Now Goes On Without Tim Sloan After Dropping CRA 2 Levels by OCC Whose Otting Apologized

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, March 28 – Seven months after Wells Fargo Bank's Community Reinvestment Act rating was dropped two levels to "Needs to Improve," barring it from acquisitions, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency of Joseph Otting quietly said, in a footnote to a Bulletin issued on 12 October 2017, that "The OCC’s policy is not to lower a bank’s CRA composite or component rating by more than one rating level." See here, footnote 8. So when did this become the OCC's policy, after it dropped Wells by two levels? Call it a stealth sop to Wells Fargo - and seemingly a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act, one in what has become a series by Otting at the OCC. Now on 28 March 2018, Tim Sloan is abuptly out at Wells Fargo, leaving general counsel Allen Parker as interim CEO pending a search. Could Otting's obsequiousness be a try-out? Would communities be worse off with him as head of a bank, again, or as regulators of most of the largest banks? We'll have more on this. In July it emerged that over 800,000 people who took car loans from Wells were charged for needless auto insurance, pushing 274,000 Wells Fargo customers into delinquency and triggering nearly 25,000 wrongful vehicle repossessions. So much for the industry having cleaned itself up after the predatory lending meltdown. New York City announced it will not enter any new relationships with the bank, also suspending Wells Fargo's role as a senior book-running manager for NYC General Obligation and Transactional Finance Authority bond sales. A statement by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Controller Scott Stringer noted that "Currently, Wells Fargo holds contracts with the City to provide banking services, including to operate 'Lock Box' services that hold taxes and fees collected by the City. There is approximately $227 million of City dollars held in Wells Fargo accounts." Bu will they get involved in opposing Sterling National Bank, which Inner City Press and Fair Finance Watch have exposed as having "unreliable" CRA data, notwithstanding the OCC's scam "Satisfactory" rating on May 30? Click here. We'll have more on this.

March 25, 2019

Federal Reserve Board Is Already Rubber Stamping Mergers Now Anti CRA Stephen Moore Nominated

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

SOUTH BRONX, March 23 – Federal Reserve Board chairman Jay Powell told Congress he will run transparent reviews of mergers like BB&T - Suntrust, and announced two public hearings as if to prove it. But on February 27 while still not acting on Inner City Press' Freedom of Information Act request for withheld information, his Fed Board rubber stamped the application by WSFS to buy Beneficial and close at least 25 branches. Now the Fed portends to become even more of a rubber stamp, even more dismissive of the Community Reinvestment Act, now that Stephen Moore has been nominated. Beyond his article trashing the CRA, here, Moore has been outed for using false data such that even the Kansas City Star said they won't publish him any more. But he'll be in FRB merger approval orders? The Fed's WSFS order said, "A commenter objected to the proposal alleging, based on data reported under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (“HMDA”)25 for 2017, that WSFS Bank denied home purchase mortgage loans to African American and Latino applicants at significantly higher rates than to white applicants in the Wilmington, DelawareMaryland-New Jersey Metropolitan Division (“MD”) and the Salisbury, MarylandDelaware Metropolitan Statistical Area (“MSA”). The commenter also raised concerns regarding branch closures anticipated in connection with the proposed mergers." The comment, which the Fed seems not to want to name in order to try to deny legal standing, is Fair Finance Watch / Inner City Press.

March 18, 2019

As BB&T Tries Taking Over Suntrust Fed Sets Public Hearings After Brainard Quizzed on FOIA By Inner City Press

By Matthew R. Lee, FOIA docs

NEW YORK CITY, March 14 – When BB&T announced a $66 billion proposal to take over Suntrust Bank, which would close a still undisclosed number of branches and extend BB&T disparate lending patterns, many linked it to deregulatory moves in Washington. Now two days after Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard was asked by Inner City Press about the Fed's lax review of previous mergers, including WSFS on which the Fed still hasn't ruled on the bank's withholding of information after rubber stamping the deal, the Fed has announced this: "The Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) on Thursday announced that they will jointly hold two public meetings on the proposed merger of BB&T Corporation, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with SunTrust Banks, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. As part of the proposal, BB&T would merge SunTrust Bank with and into its subsidiary state non-member bank, Branch Banking and Trust Company, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  The purpose of the meetings is to collect information relating to the convenience and needs of the communities to be served, including a review of the insured depository institutions' performance under the Community Reinvestment Act. The agencies also will consider and collect information on other factors relevant to making a decision on the application, including the effects of the proposal on the stability of the U.S. banking or financial system, the financial and managerial resources and future prospects of the companies, and competition in the relevant markets.  The first public meeting will be held:  Thursday, April 25 at 8:30 a.m., EDT Charlotte Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond 530 East Trade Street, Charlotte, North Carolina The second public meeting will be held:  Friday, May 3, at 8:30 a.m., EDT Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta 1000 Peachtree Street N.E., Atlanta, Georgia. All persons wishing to testify at the public meeting in Charlotte should submit a written request no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, April 15, 2019. A request to testify at the Charlotte public meeting may be sent by mail to: Matthew Martin, Vice President, Research Department, Microeconomics and Research Communications, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, 530 East Trade Street, Charlotte, North Carolina, 28202; by online form at: the Charlotte Public Meeting Request Form; by e-mail to: publicmeeting.charlotte@rich.frb.org; or by facsimile: 704-358-2300.  All persons wishing to testify at the public meeting in Atlanta should submit a written request no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. A request to testify at the Atlanta public meeting may be sent by mail to: Karen Leone de Nie, Vice President Community and Economic Development, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 1000 Peachtree Street N.E., Atlanta, Georgia, 30309; by online form at: Atlanta Public Meeting Request Form; by e-mail to: atlfedcomdev@atl.frb.org." Game on. The deregulatory moves  include an assault on the Community Reinvestment Act, being led by Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, who while at OneWest Bank led a false commenting process to push through a merger with CIT Group. (Otting is trying to change the OCC's practices on FOIA fee waivers and is even refusing to consider comments on some Business Combinations. But this BB&T proposal will go to the Fed whose Jerome Powell has vowed, credibly or not, to conduct a full review. And so consider this:  BB&T has been ordered to return $5.2 million to investors, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission, over charges it it acquired misled clients about the cost of advisory services.  The SEC said the firm that BB&T acquired with Susquehanna Bancshares, known then as Valley Forge Asset Management, misled about 1,200 clients into believing they were receiving full service brokerage services at a discount. We'll have more on this.

 Fair Finance Watch, which has been tracking BB&T as well as Otting's and the Federal Reserve's anti-CRA moves, finds that for example in the Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area in 2017 BB&T denied the home purchase mortgage applications of African Americans 2.2 times more frequently than whites, while making only 50 such loans to African Americans, and 23 to Latinos, compared to 458 to whites, all more disparate that other lenders in the market.

March 11, 2019

As Otting Targets CRA and Changes FOIA Policy For Mergers Inner City Press Legal Response

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

NEW YORK CITY, March 8 – The US Treasury Department is the next stage of a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt when he was at the US Environmental Protection Agency or Ryan Zinke at Interior, is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's (OCC's) Joseph Otting. Now Otting, in order to hinder Press coverage of how many banks he meets with by changing the OCC's long standing FOIA fee waiver policy, is saying he will make it harder to get CRA information too. This is the "new" OCC - see its letter on new policies, below.  And his OCC has said it will not consider public comments on "Business Combination" applications on which public comments have always in the past been considered, for example this one on a Long Island bank trying to take over Chinatown FSB, here. Now they write again, to pretend that it is not a new policy, and that the US Administrative Procedure Act does not apply to changes of agency policy, particularly to protect and censor for a new head of agency. These people are lawless. Inner City Press has again timely replied, this time also to the OCC's Stephen Lybarger and Barry Wides: "Good afternoon. Having not received a single page or day of the Comptroller's calendar which Inner City Press requested in January, in an abundance of caution and to ensure prompt receipt, we submit the below by your deadline, please confirm receipt:  Dear Ms. Merritt:     Inner City Press traditionally has received fee waivers from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency under 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii) and 12 C.F.R. § 4.17. Waivers were granted on the basis of similar or identical language contained in the instant Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which is now the subject of OCC’s waiver rejection. I understand from your correspondence that you are not questioning Inner City Press’s eligibility for a waiver in this instance; rather, it appears you are requiring a more thorough enunciation of our eligibility than under prior requests. Inner City Press maintains its objection to OCC’s original determination, which has caused undue delay and prejudice to Inner City Press based on a previously unstated requirement to provide unprecedented detail in our waiver request. Nevertheless, below we provide additional detail to support our eligibility for a waiver.     Inner City Press Is Eligible for a Fee Waiver     In accordance with 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii) and 12 C.F.R. § 4.17, Inner City Press is eligible for, and requests, a waiver of fees associated with processing its request for records. The subject of this request—calendars of an OCC senior official—concerns the operations of the federal government, and the disclosures will likely contribute to a better understanding of relevant government procedures by the general public in a significant way. Moreover, the request is primarily and fundamentally for non-commercial purposes.     Inner City Press requests a waiver of fees because disclosure of the requested information is “in the public interest because the disclosure . . . [i]s likely to contribute significantly to public understanding” of government operations or activities.[1] Specifically, the disclosure of the information sought under this request will document and reveal the activities of the federal government, including how high-ranking agency personnel are using their official time, with whom they are meeting to discuss official agency business, and whether and to what extent external interests are influencing administration policy decisions. The manner in which a senior official spends his time reveals agency priorities, enables the public to evaluate whether the official is abiding by ethical constraints on meeting with prior employers or clients, and reveals to degree of industry influence of political donor access to the agency. The value of such information speaks for itself. In addition, its value has been widely recognized. For example, in 2017, the New York Times identified an article based on then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s calendars as one of its most important stories of the year. See 2017: Our Reporters Reflect on Covering Washington and Politics, N.Y. Times, Dec. 29, 2017, available at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/us/politics/covering-washington-politics.html (citing E.P.A. Chief’s Calendar: A Stream of Industry Meetings and Trips Home, Eric Lipton, N.Y. Times, Oct. 3, 2017).     As discussed below, Inner City Press has both the ability and the intention to effectively convey the information it receives to the public.     Inner City Press does not have a commercial interest in the requested information. This request is primarily and fundamentally for non-commercial purposes. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Inner City Press does not have a commercial purpose and the release of the information requested is not in its financial interest. Inner City Press’s mission is to engage in cutting-edge investigative reporting focused, fair lending, development, and government accountability advocacy. Core to its mission is to educate the public about government activities and to ensure the accountability of government officials. Inner City Press uses the information gathered, and its analysis of it, to educate the public through reports, press releases, or other media. It also makes materials it gathers available on its public website and promotes their availability on social media platforms. Inner City Press has demonstrated its commitment to the public disclosure of documents and creation of editorial content. For example, Inner City Press’s website contains dozens of articles describing the operations of the federal government from a unique perspective, including about the OCC:     ·        In SDNY FreddieMac Via FHFA of Otting Says Its Negligent Late Objection Is Fine As Otting Lawless: http://www.innercitypress.com/sdny1fhfahera030719.html.  https://theintercept.com/2018/09/29/joseph-otting-occ-onewest-bank-merger-cit/     Inner City Press’s website contains many more examples demonstrating its ability and intention to inform the public about government activities, including specifically related to how the subject of the instant FOIA request spent his time at OCC.     Accordingly, Inner City Press qualifies for a fee waiver.     Conclusion     Without withdrawing Inner City Press’s previously articulated objection to our original waiver denial, we submit the above information to satisfy the OCC’s newly-stringent standard for satisfying the waiver provisions of your regulations and the FOIA statute. There can be no doubt that Inner City Press qualifies for a waiver based on the foregoing. Moreover, Inner City Press’s long track record of fee waivers is further evidence of our current eligibility. In particular, we have demonstrated repeatedly our intent and ability to inform the public about government operations and that our requests for information are not primarily in our commercial interest." So far, only this, from the OCC's Kristin Merritt: "Mr. Lee.  I have received. Thank you." Watch this site. Here was their letter, dated March 5: "Dear Mr. Lee :   I sent you the following information in an email on 2/19/2019, and have not received a response.  Please respond as soon as possible, and by Friday, 3/8/2019 at the latest.   Good afternoon Mr. Lee.    I am writing to you regarding your correspondence of February 11, 2019, as it relates to your January 17, 2019 FOIA request number 2019-00104.  Although you request a fee waiver in connection with your FOIA request, you do not provide a sufficient justification for the granting of the waiver in either your January 17 or your February 11 correspondence.   I understand that in the past, the OCC has granted you fee waivers based on the same or similar language used in your most recent request, and that you may not have received an adequate explanation as to why your recent request was not being handled in a similar manner as past requests.  Please be aware that going forward, with respect to your case number 2019-00104 and all other requests made by any requester for any information, the OCC will only grant fee waivers on a case-by case basis when a requester has affirmatively demonstrated entitlement to a fee waiver in accordance with the requirements of the FOIA at 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(4)(A)(iii).  This approach is in accordance with the FOIA statute and DOJ guidance.  In applicable guidance, DOJ has stated:  “The Department of Justice stands committed to encouraging agencies to waive fees under the FOIA whenever the statutory fee waiver standard is met. By the same token, of course, agencies also are expected to respect the balance drawn in the statute, safeguarding federal funds by granting waivers or reductions only where it is determined that the statutory standard is satisfied.”  see FOIA Update, Vol. VIII, No. 1 (“OIP Guidance: New Fee Waiver Policy Guidance”) (emphasis added).  Moreover, the OCC’s approach is consistent with case law, which provides that each fee waiver request is considered on a case-by-case basis because each request involves varied information.  See Media Access Project v. FCC, 883 F.2d 1063 (D.C. Cir 1989).  Additionally, the OCC is not bound to grant a fee waiver to a requester in a particular case just because it has granted the requester waivers in the past.  See e.g., Judicial Watch Inc., v. DOJ, No. 99-2315, 2000 WL 33724693 at *5  (D.D.C. Aug. 17, 2000); Judicial Watch, Inc., v. DOJ, No. 97-2089, Slip op. at 14 (D.D.C. July 14, 1998).     The burden for establishing that a fee waiver is justified is on the requester.  See Friends of the Coast Fork v. U.S. Dep’t of the Interior, 110 F.3d 53, 55 (9th Cir. 1997).  Thus, in order for the OCC to determine whether your request meets the requirements for a fee waiver, you must demonstrate that the OCC’s disclosure in response to your request meets the standard set forth in Section 552(a)(4)(A)(iii).  You may wish to consult DOJ’s guidance at https://www.justice.gov/oip/blog/foia-update-new-fee-waiver-policy-guidance  in formulating your justification.  Until these issues are resolved with respect to your fee waiver, the clock is stopped on your FOIA request.       Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.   Best,                    Kristin Merritt  Special Counsel Administrative & Internal Law  Office of the Comptroller of the Currency  400 7th St., S.W.  Washington, D.C.  20219" Under Otting, who is throwing up roadblocks to the release of his calendar under the Freedom of Information Act (see below), "the OCC is instructing examiners to investigate some of the claims separately, rather than addressing them within the merger-approval process.  “We require a certain level of detail and specificity in comments,” Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting said in a written statement. 'The changes ensure that concerns are validated by exam staff who are best positioned to review [their] merits.'"

This is a backdoor safe harbor. Since 98% of banks are rated Satisfactory or Outstanding (including those which later are found guilty of discrimination and redlining), to discount comments that are not "validated" by these bogus and inflated rating is regulatory malpractice. Perhaps this is why Otting is hiding his calendar

March 4, 2019

As Otting Targets Community Reinvestment Act He Refuses To Consider Public Comment on Chinatown Acquisition

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

NEW YORK CITY, March 2 – The US Treasury Department is the next stage of a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt when he was at the US Environmental Protection Agency or Ryan Zinke at Interior, is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's (OCC's) Joseph Otting. He has gone beyond overall attempts to underling the CRA to refusing public comment on the type of business combination applications on which comment has in the past been accepted and considered. Photo here. His OCC in a February 26, 2019 letter to Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch concerning its timely comment opposing the application to the OCC by Long Island-based Hanover Community Bank to acquire Chinatown Federal Savings Bank, stated that "the business combination application filed with the OCC in connection with Hanover's acquisition, referenced above, is not subject to public comment." Photo of letter here. This is a direct attack on the CRA and on public participation more generally. Here's from the Fair Finance Watch comment Otting is refusing to consider: "February 18, 2019 Via e-mail
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Northeastern District Office Acting Director for District Licensing, Marva V. Cummings 340 Madison Avenue, Fifth Floor New York, NY 10173-0002 
Re: Timely First Comment on OCC 2019-NE-Combination-307316, re Applications by Hanover to acquire Chinatown FSB
Dear Ms. Cummings and others in the OCC:  This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the OCC's public comment period on the Applications by Hanover to acquire Chinatown FSB.       The applicant Hanover in the New York City MSA in 2017 made 269 home purchase loans to Asians -- and NONE to African Americans. Note that Hanover's CRA assessment area includes The Bronx, and Brooklyn.    Note that when Hanover opened a deposit taking branch in NYC, in Forest Hills, its press release said nothing about a focus on Chinese Americans or Asians or any limitations or restrictions on lending, here.  Hanover does not even appear to offer any FHA, FSA/RHS, and VA home-purchase loans. This is not acceptable.... The comment period should be extended; evidentiary hearings should be held; and on the current record, the application should not be approved." Then Otting says, we don't care, we won't listen. 
Otting, in order to hinder Press coverage of how many banks he meets with by changing the OCC's long standing FOIA fee waiver policy, is saying he will make it harder to get CRA information too. This is the "new" OCC - see its letter on new policies, below.  Under Otting, who is throwing up roadblocks to the release of his calendar under the Freedom of Information Act (see below), "the OCC is instructing examiners to investigate some of the claims separately, rather than addressing them within the merger-approval process.  “We require a certain level of detail and specificity in comments,” Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting said in a written statement. 'The changes ensure that concerns are validated by exam staff who are best positioned to review [their] merits.'"

This is a backdoor safe harbor. Since 98% of banks are rated Satisfactory or Outstanding (including those which later are found guilty of discrimination and redlining), to discount comments that are not "validated" by these bogus and inflated rating is regulatory malpractice. Perhaps this is why Otting is hiding his calendar...

February 25, 2019

Amid Targeting of Community Reinvestment Act Fed Asks WSFS About Branch Closings

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

SOUTH BRONX, February 20 – The US Treasury Department is the next stage of a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt when he was at the US Environmental Protection Agency or Ryan Zinke at Interior, is Comptroller of the Current Joseph Otting. On September 12 Fair Finance Watch (and on FOIA, Inner City Press) commented to the OCC, here. At the November 19 deadline, not yet posted was Inner City Press' November 17 fourth comment, just as Otting's OCC absurdly waited 13 days to try to rule it does not have to consider Fair Finance Watch's comments on WSFS Bank's application to acquire Beneficial. Now, after the OCC gleefully closed its comment period on that, WSFS on December 13 announced it will close 25 branches. One would think Otting would have to re-open the comment period. But that's not how Otting rolls. And the Fed, on FOIA and now public notice, is absurd. It has allowed WSFS to withhold its answer on CRA, in a letter it sent late to Inner City Press. Now just past midnight on February 20 the Fed has asked WSFS a "non-confidential" question, below, and presumably some confidential question(s) which Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch has no chance to obtain under FOIA before Board action. Here's what FFW has just received: "From: Derald Seid To: mnonaka; Benjenk, Randy Cc: Kelley O"Mara; Arthur White; Ken Williams Subject: WSFS Application Date: Wednesday, February 20, 2019 12:22:00 AM NONCONFIDENTIAL // EXTERNAL Messrs. Nonaka and Benjenk: This request refers to the application by WSFS Financial Corporation (“WSFS”), Wilmington, Delaware, to acquire Beneficial Bancorp, Inc. (“Beneficial”), and thereby indirectly acquire Beneficial Bank (“Beneficial Bank”), both of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pursuant to section 10(e) of the Home Owners’ Loan Act following the conversion of Beneficial from a bank holding company to a savings and loan holding company. Following the proposed acquisition, WSFS plans to merge Beneficial Bank into its subsidiary, Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB (“WSFS Bank”), Wilmington, Delaware. Based on our review of the current record, the following information is requested: · WSFS has represented that it plans to close a total of 25 WSFS Bank and Beneficial Bank branches in connection with the proposed transaction, primarily because of the proximity of those branches to other branches of the proposed combined bank. Please confirm that WSFS will comply with the requirements of section 42 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (12 U.S.C. § 1831r-1) and interagency guidance applicable to branch closures (See Joint Policy Statement on Branch Closings by Insured Depository Institutions, https://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/press/BoardActs/1999/19990707/r-1036.pdf). In accordance with the Federal Reserve’s ex parte procedures, provide a copy of the public portion of your response (together with any attachments) directly to the commenter, Mr. Matthew Lee of Fair Finance Watch. Any information for which you desire confidential treatment must be so labeled and separately bound, and accompanied by your request for confidential treatment pursuant to section 261.15 of the Board’s Rules Regarding Availability of Information (12 CFR 261.15). Best regards, Derald Derald L. Seid | Legal Division | Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System."


February 18, 2019

As Otting Targets Community Reinvestment Act His OCC Starts Safe Harbor Relying On Bogus Ratings

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

NEW YORK CITY, February 13 – The US Treasury Department is the next stage of a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt when he was at the US Environmental Protection Agency or Ryan Zinke at Interior, is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's (OCC's) Joseph Otting. Now under Otting, who is throwing up roadblocks to the release of his calendar under the Freedom of Information Act (see below), "the OCC is instructing examiners to investigate some of the claims separately, rather than addressing them within the merger-approval process.  “We require a certain level of detail and specificity in comments,” Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting said in a written statement. 'The changes ensure that concerns are validated by exam staff who are best positioned to review [their] merits.'"

This is a backdoor safe harbor. Since 98% of banks are rated Satisfactory or Outstanding (including those which later are found guilty of discrimination and redlining), to discount comments that are not "validated" by these bogus and inflated rating is regulatory malpractice. Perhaps this is why Otting is hiding his calendar; perhaps the WSJ's Lalita Clozel will dig further. As to the Federal Reserve, Inner City Press has been informed of a memo by a major law firm which has hired and used former Fed Legal Division staff bragging about the fast Fed approvals it is receiving. We'll have more on this - including on BB&T / Suntrust, see here.

February 11, 2019

As Otting Targets Community Reinvestment Act Denies FOIA Fee Waiver For Inner City Press Request For His Calendar For 1st Time

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

NEW YORK CITY, February 9 – The US Treasury Department is the next stage of a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt when he was at the US Environmental Protection Agency or Ryan Zinke at Interior, is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's (OCC's) Joseph Otting. On September 12 Fair Finance Watch (and on FOIA, Inner City Press) commented to the OCC, here. On January 16 Inner City Press asked the OCC on the expedited basis for records to disclose Otting's meetings with the banking industry and othersBut in a letter dated January 31, the OCC for the first time in years denied Inner City Press' fee waiver request on this one request, despite the request using the same language as requests the OCC has granted for Inner City Press repeatedly. The only difference is the subject of the FOIA request: Otting. This is an abuse of power. Inner City Press has appealed: "Inner City Press is appealing Mr Frank Vance's letter dated January 31, 2019 which denies, for the first time in years, Inner City Press' request for a fee waiver - because the request concerns Comtroller Otting and his schedule. Inner City Press is a media that covers the OCC... it seeks this information to educate the public about the operations of the OCC. The language of the fee waiver request was the same as the OCC has requested granted - now suddenly a new standard is applied, due to the subject matter of the request. This is unacceptable. The denial letter doesn't even inform of the right to appeal, and the request number is not listed in our account - thereby blocking submission of the appeal. We are submitting under the number of another of our 2019 requests on which fee waiver WAS granted, on the same language. We ask for expedited ruling on this appeal, and an explanation."

February 4, 2019


US Settlement Without Fine For Predatory Lending From Malta Needs SDNY Approval Comparative Crime

By Matthew Russell Lee

NEW YORK CITY, February 1 – A dubious settlement of predatory lending claims by the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is coming for approval to the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, CFBP announced on Friday afternoon.

The facts of the case are extreme: a lender pretending to be based off-shore in Malta charging interest rates of 700%. But CFPB is settling out the case with no penalties, no restitution, nothing - and asking the SDNY to sign off on it. Will it?   The case is No. 15cv5211 (CM)(RWL) of which the CFPB says "The proposed settlement covers NDG Financial Corp., E-Care Contact Centers, Ltd., Blizzard Interactive Corp., New World Consolidated Lending Corp., New World Lenders Corp., Payroll Loans First Lenders Corp., New World RRSP Lenders Corp., Northway Financial Corp., Ltd., and Northway Broker, Ltd and corporate officials Kimberly DeThomas, Jeremy Sabourin, and William Wrixon. The defendants were not fined."

  These days Inner City Press is covering a range of cases in the SDNY. Not only Michael Cohen, and the back to back UN bribery cases of Ng Lap Seng then Patrick Ho, but also this week's sentencings for the NYPD's guns for cash scandal (18 months in prison) and conspiracy to commit arson in The Bronx (28 months, see below). So what is system predatory lending worth? Doesn't it, too, ravage communities? Compare and contrast... A Bronx man who pled guilty to conspiracy leading to the burning down of a convenience store in the Bronx on 11 September 2016 was sentenced to 28 months in prison on February 1 by Judge William H. Pauley III in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

  Arson and The Bronx were for a time synonymous, though few of the perpetrators were caught much less sentenced. Times have changed. Present at Friday afternoon's sentencing on the 20th floor of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse were only the defendant Richard Sanchez and his lawyer, a lone prosecutor, three family members and Inner City Press. Yet the tale was heartbreaking, in its way.

  Sanchez' lawyer Patrick Brackley recounted that he had prior run-ins with the law, citing an incident with a dirt bike. But, he said, Sanchez had used his time out free on bail to re-build his life. Sanchez himself read what he called an open letter to Judge Pawley, speaking about his ten year old daughter, a business he was starting and his brand.

   Judge Pauley said he took note of these but found it inexplicable that someone would, for $500, agree to find people to burn down a store in their own neighborhood. Sanchez was contracted by the owner of one deli to burn down a nearly-open competitor; both stores were across the street from where Sanchez lived. Judge Pauley told Sanchez he was lucky no one had been injured or killed, alluding to the felony murder rule which would have held Sanchez liable.

   While the prosecution via Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam S. Hobson sought a sentence of from 46 to 57 months, Pauley imposed 28 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, at a prison as near to New York City as possible.

   Restitution of $50,000 was ordered, and the same standard $100 mandatory special assessment that SDNY Judge Edgar Ramos had imposed the day before on former NYPD Lieutenant Paul Dean for his admitted role in gun permits for cash scam (see Inner City Press' story here).

  That sentencing drew a gaggle; that of Richard Sanchez for his role in the arson of a store in the Bronx did not. Pauley said to his mostly empty courtroom, The public must understand that people can't be going around burning down stores in their own neighborhood.

The case: United States v. Richard Sanchez, 18 Cr. 26 (WHP)

Upcoming in the SDNY is a just-filed complaint by the Bangladesh Central Bank for the $81 million hacking of its funds, which were then wired through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a case that Inner City Press will cover. Times change. Watch this site.

January 28, 2019

Amid Targeting of Community Reinvestment Act Centerstate Bank NCC Challenge Yields Fed Qs

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

NEW YORK CITY, January 11 – The US Treasury Department is the next stage of a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. On January 7, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press filed comments and a Freedom of Information Act request with the Federal Reserve on Centerstate Bank's application to acquire National Bank of Commerce, despite Centerstate's disparate lending record, see below. On January 25, the Federal Reserve belatedly sent questions to CenterState, with a copy to Inner City Press: "This letter concerns the application filed under section 3 of the Bank Holding Company Act by CenterState Bank Corporation (“CenterState”), Winter Haven, Florida, to merge with National Commerce Corporation (“NCC”) and thereby acquire National Bank of Commerce (“Bank of Commerce”), both of Birmingham, Alabama. Based on staff’s review of the current record, the following additional information is requested. Respond to all requests, including those in the confidential annex. Supporting documentation, as appropriate, should be provided. 1. Indicate whether CenterState will discontinue or reduce any products or services of Bank of Commerce after consummation of the proposal. If so, discuss any efforts to mitigate the effects of such discontinuance or reduction.

2. Provide the address of any branches of Bank of Commerce that CenterState intends to close or consolidate after consummation of the proposal. Discuss any efforts to mitigate the effects of any such closing(s) or consolidation(s).

3. Discuss the efforts that CenterState will take to ensure a smooth transition for customers of Bank of Commerce to CenterState Bank, NA, Winter Haven, Florida. Your response should further elaborate on how CenterState will seek to avoid the types of issues alleged in the public comment concerning customer experiences during transitioning service to CenterState Bank, NA. Discuss also how CenterState will ensure a successful integration of others systems of NCC and Bank of Commerce with those of CenterState and CenterState Bank, NA.

4. Indicate to what extent CenterState Bank’s CRA and consumer compliance, including fair lending, programs would be implemented at Bank of Commerce. In addition, indicate the key individuals who would be responsible for these programs, as well as their qualifications and experience. Please submit your response to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta within eight business days. In addition, in accordance with the Board’s procedures regarding ex parte communications, provide a copy of the public portion of your response, together with any attachments, directly to the commenter. Any information for which you desire confidential treatment should be so labeled and separately bound in accordance with section 261.15 of the Board’s Rules Regarding Availability of Information." We'll have more on this. On January 11, having been sent documents showing that Centerstate is trying to withhold most of its exhibits, Inner City Press filed "This is a second timely comment on the over-withheld Applications of Centerstate Bank Corporation, Winter Haven, Florida to merge with National Commerce Corporation, and thereby indirectly acquire National Bank of Commerce.    On January 7 Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch submitted an initial comment and requested a copy of the full Application, under FOIA and through the Reserve Bank. So far, what has been sent to Inner City Press has no portion at all of the only substantive Exhibits, B, C and D. The only Exhibits provided are the merger agreements and the form of newspaper notice.  This is an abuse, and the comment period must be extended so that comment on the wrongfully withheld exhibits can be made. It is impossible to believe that there are no segregable non exempt portions of those exhibits. Inner City Press already has a FOIA request pending and so is not confusing the matter by submitting another FOIA request.  The FRB should not countenance such strategic secrecy by this applicant. This is a specific timely request that the comment period be extended and the information provided.

Fair Finance Watch has been tracking Centerstate Bank:

In 2017 in the Orlando, Florida MSA for home purchase loans, Centerstate made 108 such loans to whites - and only TWO to African Americans, and only ten to Latinos. Its denial rate for Latinos was 3.6 times higher than for whites, and for African Americans 2.66 times higher than for whites, both most disparate that the industry as a whole.

In 2017 in the Miami, Florida MSA for home purchase loans, Centerstate made 14 such loans to whites - and only three  to African Americans.

In 2017 in the Tampa, Florida MSA for conventional home purchase loans, Centerstate made 130 such loans to whites - and only 1 each to African Americans and to Latinos.

In 2017 in the Jacksonville, Florida MSA for conventional home purchase loans, Centerstate made 18 such loans to whites - and none to African Americans and to Latinos (it denied the only application which, based on its disparate outreach, it received from people of color, a Latino applicant.)

In 2017 in the Lakeland - Winter Haven, Florida MSA for conventional home purchase loans, Centerstate made 160 such loans to whites - and only four to African Americans and only eight to Latinos (it denied Latino applicants 2.7 time more frequently than whites.)

  This should also be address in this proceeding, including at the requested evidentiary hearing - CenterState has a history of mishandling mergers, and arrogantly ignoring consumer complaints, standing behind excuses rebutted by the consumers..

On Otting, there is and will be fight-back, under NCRC's TreasureCRA campaign and upcoming conference. Watch this site - including on actual enforcement of CRA.

January 21, 2019

As Otting Targets Community Reinvestment Act Inner City Press Requests His Calendar Under FOIA

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

NEW YORK CITY, January 19 – The US Treasury Department is the next stage of a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt when he was at the US Environmental Protection Agency or Ryan Zinke at Interior, is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's (OCC's) Joseph Otting. On September 12 Fair Finance Watch (and on FOIA, Inner City Press) commented to the OCC, here. And now on January 16 Inner City Press asked the OCC on the expedited basis for records to disclose Otting's meetings with the banking industry and others:  "Dear OCC FOIA Officer: Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch (ICP) makes this request for records pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, and OCC regulations. ICP requests copies of records sufficient to show all of Comptroller Otting's scheduled meetings, appointments, and scheduled events from the date he became Comptroller to the date of your response including but not limited to Outlook calendar entries and daily briefing books for Comptroller Otting on those dates... ICP requests that you expedite the processing of this request. There is media interest and there exist possible questions concerning the OCC's integrity, which affect public confidence. See e.g. this article and the CRA ANPR since." We'll have more on this.

January 14, 2019

Amid Targeting of Community Reinvestment Act Centerstate Bank Takeover of NCC Challenged on Disparate Lending

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

ORLANDO, January 7 – The US Treasury Department is the next stage of a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. On January 7, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press filed comments and a Freedom of Information Act request with the Federal Reserve on Centerstate Bank's application to acquire National Bank of Commerce, despite Centerstate's disparate lending record: "

This is a request for a full copy of, and a timely first comment on, the Applications of Centerstate Bank Corporation, Winter Haven, Florida to merge with National Commerce Corporation, and thereby indirectly acquire National Bank of Commerce.

As an initial matter, this is a request that the FRS immediately send by email to Inner City Press all non-exempt portions of the applications / notices for which the Applicants have requested confidential treatment.

Fair Finance Watch has been tracking Centerstate Bank:

In 2017 in the Orlando, Florida MSA for home purchase loans, Centerstate made 108 such loans to whites - and only TWO to African Americans, and only ten to Latinos. Its denial rate for Latinos was 3.6 times higher than for whites, and for African Americans 2.66 times higher than for whites, both most disparate that the industry as a whole.

In 2017 in the Miami, Florida MSA for home purchase loans, Centerstate made 14 such loans to whites - and only three  to African Americans.

In 2017 in the Tampa, Florida MSA for conventional home purchase loans, Centerstate made 130 such loans to whites - and only 1 each to African Americans and to Latinos.

In 2017 in the Jacksonville, Florida MSA for conventional home purchase loans, Centerstate made 18 such loans to whites - and none to African Americans and to Latinos (it denied the only application which, based on its disparate outreach, it received from people of color, a Latino applicant.)

In 2017 in the Lakeland - Winter Haven, Florida MSA for conventional home purchase loans, Centerstate made 160 such loans to whites - and only four to African Americans and only eight to Latinos (it denied Latino applicants 2.7 time more frequently than whites.)

  This should also be address in this proceeding, including at the requested evidentiary hearing - CenterState has a history of mishandling mergers, and arrogantly ignoring consumer complaints, standing behind excuses rebutted by the consumers, for example:

"For over a day, I haven't been able to access money in my account because CenterState is having issues transferring ********* accounts in their system I was a customer of**********************, which was recently acquired by CenterState Bank.

As of May 18th, I haven't been able to access my account online. I called customer services, and they told me that I would have access by May 19. I was also told that they could not provide me any information about my balance. I still didn't have any access on May 19, so I called again and was told to wait longer and then they rudely hung up on me. I still have no information on my account and cannot withdraw my money. I searched for the nearest branch so that I can visit it, get my money and close my account, but they are all closed until Monday. I am concerned because I rely on this money for emergencies and to pay for mine and my children's food, bills, and more. 

I expect CenterState bank to comply with their obligations to their customers by 1) providing me access to my account and my money, 2) allowing me to close my account immediately upon visiting their branch next Monday, 4) apologize for the inconvenience and mistreatment from their customer service employee. 

CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A. Response 05/25/2018  CenterState Bank sincerely appreciates the account relationship that Ms.******* had established with**********************. Leading up to and during the conversion process, the two banks worked closely together to make sure the conversion process went as smoothly as possible. Customer communication regarding products, services, online banking and debit cards was mailed to the address on file with********************** to all of their customers within the required thirty day timeframe before the conversion weekend, the systems were transferring files between the two banks, which resulted in certain services (such as a account balance information) being unavailable. Communication sent to all********************** customers in at least two mailings prior to the conversion date specifically addressed that account balances would not be available until the conversion process was complete sometime over the weekend or possibly the Monday morning of the 21st. Additional staff was added to our Customer Care call center to handle anticipated call volume over the weekend and into this week. The Bank sincerely apologizes for the alleged treatment received by our Customer Care team when Ms.******* called on Saturday, May 19th to inquire about her balance. It is never our intention to be rude to any of our customers. In an effort to answer as many calls as efficiently as possible, the team was perhaps less likely to encourage additional conversation than normal. Please be advised that account balances and all other functions were working as intended on Monday morning, May 21st. It has been noted that Ms.******* did close her account with our Bank on Monday, May 21st. We would like to extend the invitation to her to consider CenterState Bank for any additional banking needs that she might have in the future. 

Customer Response 06/07/2018  (The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.) CenterState Bank stated that "account balances and all other functions were working as intended on Monday morning, May 21st;" but it was not. Before closing my account, I was still unable to log in to my account. ... They also claim that "additional staff was added to their Customer Care call center to handle anticipated call volume over the weekend and into this week." However, their website stated that customer service were unavailable, and only branches or electronic forms were available. Please see attachment. As their response above indicates, I closed my account thereafter, but am disappointed with their service and lack of effort to try to make up for this inconvenience. Therefore, I have NO intention of recommending them or doing business with them in the future. 

CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A. Response CenterState Bank submitted a response in reference to *************'s complaint on May 25, 2018. We feel we have addressed her dissatisfaction and apologized for her inconvenience. We stand by our original response."

  This is indicative of the approach that would be taken to the new customers Centerstate is trying to acquire. Inner City Press is also concerned about the potential for branch closing(s), and loss of local accountability.

  ICP is requesting evidentiary hearings and that this proposed acquisition, on the current record, not be approved. There is no public benefit."

January 7, 2019

Amid Targeting of Community Reinvestment Act Fed Delays on FOIA for WSFS CRA Program

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

SOUTH BRONX, January 3 – The US Treasury Department is the next stage of a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt when he was at the US Environmental Protection Agency or Ryan Zinke at Interior, is Comptroller of the Current Joseph Otting. On September 12 Fair Finance Watch (and on FOIA, Inner City Press) commented to the OCC, here. At the November 19 deadline, not yet posted was Inner City Press' November 17 fourth comment, just as Otting's OCC absurdly waited 13 days to try to rule it does not have to consider Fair Finance Watch's comments on WSFS Bank's application to acquire Beneficial. Now, after the OCC gleefully closed its comment period on that, WSFS on December 13 announced it will close 25 branches. One would think Otting would have to re-open the comment period. But that's not how Otting rolls. And the Fed, on FOIA, is absurd. On January 2 the Federal Reserve unilaterally extended its time to respond to Inner City Press' FOIA request about WSFS and CRA - without any commitment to no haul off and rubber stamp the application. Here's what the Fed wrote: "Mr. Matthew R. Lee  Inner City Press  P.O. Box 20047  Dag Hammarskjold Station  New York, NY 10017     Re:       Freedom of Information Act Request No. F-2019-00040     Dear Mr. Lee,     On December 3, 2018, the Board of Governors (“Board”) received your electronic message dated December 1, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, for all withheld portions of the applications by WSFS to acquire Beneficial, including but not limited to presumptively mis-labeled “Confidential” exhibits about WSFS's CRA program (“Confidential” Exhibit 9)... Pursuant to section (a)(6)(B)(i) of the FOIA, we are extending the period for our response until January 16, 2019, in order to consult with two or more components of the Board having a substantial interest in the determination of the request.     If a determination can be made before January 16, 2019, we will respond to you promptly. It is our policy to process FOIA requests as quickly as possible while ensuring that we disclose the requested information to the fullest extent of the law.     Thank you,     Freedom of Information Office  Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System."

December 31, 2018

Mnuchin Calls Big Six Banks and Monday Convenes Powell and Otting Amid Targeting of Community Reinvestment Act

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

SOUTH BRONX, December 23 – US Treasury Department Steve Mnuchin on Sunday from Cabo called six big US banks: "Brian Moynihan, Bank of America; Michael Corbat, Citi; David Solomon, Goldman Sachs; Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Chase, James Gorman, Morgan Stanley; Tim Sloan, Wells Fargo. The CEOs confirmed that they have ample liquidity available for lending to consumer, business markets, and all other market operations. He also confirmed that they have not experienced any clearance or margin issues and that the markets continue to function properly.

Tomorrow, the Secretary will convene a call with the President’s Working Group on financial markets, which he chairs. This includes the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. He has also invited the office of the Comptroller of the Currency." That's Joseph Otting, with whom Mnuchin worked at and on selling OneWest Bank to CIT Group, complete with falsified pro-merger comments Inner City Press reported on. Otting's OCC is in a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt when he was at the US Environmental Protection Agency, is Comptroller of the Current Joseph Otting. On September 12 Fair Finance Watch (and on FOIA, Inner City Press) commented to the OCC, here. At the November 19 deadline, not (yet) posted was Inner City Press' November 17 fourth comment, just as Otting's OCC absurdly waited 13 days to try to rule it does not have to consider Fair Finance Watch's comments on WSFS Bank. But Inner City Press has timely protested WSFS to the Federal Reserve - and has now found out that WSFS is even trying to withhold its CRA information from the public, photo here. So Inner City Press has submitted this Freedom of Information Act request: "
This is a FOIA request for the all withheld portions of the applications by WSFS to acquire Beneficial, including but not limited to presumptively mis-labeled “Confidential” exhibits about WSFS's CRA program (“Confidential” Exhibit 9), (Beneficial's subsidiaries (“Confidential” Exhibit 3), Board of Directors resolutions, due diligence (“Confidential” Exhibit 10), operating economy / cost savings (there are branch closings projected), names of prospective managers (ages, requested on application, apparently not provided), and for all records reflecting FRS communications with WSFS or Beneficial or their affiliates for the past twelve (12) months." A fifth comment submitted including that "the OCC is already undermining CRA. Our comments to the OCC on WSFS - Beneficial have yet to be acted on. That comment was submitted on November 6. Now on November 19, two weeks later, the OCC has tellingly said it will not consider it - despite a Federal Reserve Board comment period on the same transaction remaining open until at least November 27. The OCC's attempt to ignore substantive criticism of some banks' performance, while Comptroller Otting previously solicited false comments support his OneWest Bank, are a symbol all what is wrong with this process, and today's OCC.
   While if the past is any guide the OCC will forwarded ICP's comment to the FRB by the FRB, we note in this connection that WSFS' comments on the ANPR favor, as Otting clearly does, dulling the LMI focus of CRA to make it easier for banks.  We oppose all of this.

December 24, 2018

Amid Targeting of Community Reinvestment Act FFW Protest of WSFS Leads to CRA Questions Here

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

SOUTH BRONX, December 18 – The US Treasury Department is the next stage of a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt when he was at the US Environmental Protection Agency or Ryan Zinke at Interior, is Comptroller of the Current Joseph Otting. On September 12 Fair Finance Watch (and on FOIA, Inner City Press) commented to the OCC, here. At the November 19 deadline, not yet posted was Inner City Press' November 17 fourth comment, just as Otting's OCC absurdly waited 13 days to try to rule it does not have to consider Fair Finance Watch's comments on WSFS Bank's application to acquire Beneficial. Now, after the OCC gleefully closed its comment period on that, WSFS on December 13 announced it will close 25 branches. One would think Otting would have to re-open the comment period. But that's not how Otting rolls. Here now from the Federal Reserve, to which FFW also commented, are the Fed's Additional Information questions sent December 18 to WSFS and FFW: "This request refers to the application by WSFS Financial Corporation (“WSFS”),
Wilmington, Delaware, to acquire Beneficial Bancorp, Inc. (“Beneficial”), and thereby
indirectly acquire Beneficial Bank (“Beneficial Bank”), both of Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, pursuant to section 10(e) of the Home Owners’ Loan Act following the
conversion of Beneficial from a bank holding company to a savings and loan holding
company. Following the proposed acquisition, WSFS plans to merge Beneficial Bank
into its subsidiary, Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB (“WSFS Bank”),
Wilmington, Delaware. Based on our review of the current record, the following
information, including the information in the Confidential Appendix, is requested.
Please provide relevant supporting documentation, as appropriate.
1. Provide a description of WSFS’s current non-banking activities, including any
commercial activities referenced in Item 210.50(a), and identify the authority
upon which WSFS relies to engage in such activities, as well as any supportive
analysis.
2. Provide the following required components of the H(e)-3 Application:
a. Confidential disclosure memoranda to the Merger Agreement, required as
part of Item 110.10(b)
b. Evidence of shareholder approval of the transaction, required as part of
Item 110.10(d)
c. Parent company (unconsolidated) cash flows statements, referenced in
Item 330.10(d)
d. The ages of WSFS’s and Beneficial’s directors and senior executive
officers, referenced in Item 410.10(c)-1
e. An amended charter and/or amended by-laws, if either will be revised as
a result of the proposed mergers, referenced in Exhibit B.1

3. To the extent not already provided, provide an update on WSFS Bank’s Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”) activities since its August 2017 CRA Performance Evaluation and Beneficial Bank’s CRA activities since its July 2017 CRA Performance Evaluation, in assessment areas in which the banks operate. This response should include any significant CRA initiatives undertaken, particularly with respect to credit and deposit products and retail banking services targeted toward low- and moderate-income (“LMI”) geographies and individuals, as well as information on community development lending, investments, and services WSFS Bank and Beneficial Bank have made since the banks’ last evaluation period, including the total
number, dollar amount, and service hours, and a brief description of the banks’ most significant community development loans, investments, and services.
4. Revise the pro forma financial statements that were submitted on November
27, 2018, to reflect actual reported balance sheet information for Beneficial
(total assets balance should match the balance reported on FR-Y9C) and
update the relevant footnote adjustments based on information as of September
30, 2018 (footnote adjustments related to accumulated other comprehensive
income and retained earnings are currently based on information as of June 30,
2018).
5. Provide a parent company only (unconsolidated) balance sheet as of the end of
the most recent quarter, showing separately each principal group of assets,
liabilities, and capital account components (e.g., common stock and preferred
stock, surplus, accumulated other comprehensive income, and retained
earnings), debit and credit adjustments (explained by detailed footnotes)
reflecting the proposed transaction; and the resulting pro forma parent
company balance sheet. The pro forma balance sheet should reflect the
adjustments required under business combination and fair value accounting
standards.
6. Clarify whether any of WSFS’s Integration Plan activities discussed in
WSFS’s response to Question 5 of the OCC’s Additional Information Request
(dated November 15, 2018) would include integration of any of WSFS’s and
Beneficial’s IT systems prior to WSFS’s receipt of the Federal Reserve’s
approval of the transaction.
7. Provide a breakdown of the branches that the combined bank intends to retain
after the merger, including whether any will be in low- or moderate-income or
majority-minority census tracts.
8. In the H(e)-3 application, WSFS states that it will seek “to incorporate
Beneficial Bank’s highly successful strategies for meeting the needs of its
communities into the combined institution’s CRA programs.” Please elaborate
on this statement, including a discussion of what strategies WSFS plans to
incorporate. Please indicate whether the incorporated strategies will be utilized across the entire footprint of the combined bank or in the current footprint of Beneficial Bank.
9. Please confirm that, upon merger, WSFS will commit to comply with 12 CFR 239.62, as that section may be amended from time to time by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “Board”) with respect to
Beneficial’s liquidation account.
Please submit your response within ten business days, addressed to Eddy Hsiao at
the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. In addition, to facilitate more timely
distribution of information, please submit your full response on E-Apps, the Federal
Reserve’s web-based system for electronic submission of regulatory applications and
related documents.
In accordance with the Federal Reserve’s ex parte procedures, provide a copy of the public portion of your response (together with any attachments) directly to the commenter, Mr. Matthew Lee of Fair Finance Watch. In addition, please send a copy of your response to your application contacts at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency." But wasn't the OCC's comment period closed?

December 17, 2018


At CFPB Kraninger Sworn In Without Press But Texas Bankers Present Now Electronic Media Out in 5 Minutes

By Matthew R. Lee, IMF Coverage

NEW YORK CITY / DC, December 11 – With the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau having sworn in Kathy Kraninger without any press present - but with the Texas Bankers Association in the house - on December 11 Kraninger will hold a strangely controlling media availability. Only the first five minutes will be on camera; after that all "electronic media" will be kicked out. This is 2018, and this is the agency ostensibly set up to protect the public. Here is CFPB's notice: "Kathy Kraninger, the new director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, will hold a media availability for credentialed press only at the Bureau’s headquarters at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11.

Who: Kathleen Kraninger, Director, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

Where: Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, 1700 G St. NW, Washington, D.C., B-Level conference room area.

When: Dec. 11, 2:30 p.m.

Photo Ops: Up to five minute photo/video opportunity at beginning of the availability.

Reporters: Pen and pad Q&A with accredited media only. Members of the press attending must have a White House or congressional media credential. Electronic media will only be permitted during the first five minutes of the news availability." This is not an auspicious beginning.

December 10, 2018


Cadence Bank Urged OCC To Speed Regulatory Approvals And Gets It From The Fed Despite Jumping the Gun

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, 7/31 story

SOUTH BRONX, December 7 – Cadence Bancorporation which has a disparate lending record while apply to buy State Bank in Georgia and urging faster regulatory approvals, seemingly jumped the gun before having the required Federal Reserve Board approval. But the Fed in a December 7 order shrugged it off in a footnote (22), "The commenter’s allegation that the parties are operating as a single entity prior to theBoard’s approval of the proposal related to an investor conference call during which the Chief Executive Officer of Cadence stated that he intended to refer a Cadence customer to a division of State Bank. The Board does not generally view a customer referral,
without more, as constituting prior control of an entity." Fair Finance Watch is the commenter: On October 18, Fair Finance Watch submitted a timely comment to the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, below - and got back a copy of a letter from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas forwarding its comment to Cadence's outside counsel at Wachtell Lipton -- Patricia Robinson, who used to be with the Fed's Legal Division. Inner City Press will have more on that. Now on November 20 the Fed has extended its time to respond to Inner City Press' FOIA request, the day after Cadence commented to Joseph Otting's OCC's Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking urging his OCC to "make the application process for expansionary actions less contentious." How about not making frivolous requests to have regulators withhold information until they hope the "expansionary action" is consummated?  Here's from FFW's comment: "This is a request for a full copy of, and a timely first comment on, the Applications of Cadence Bancorporation, Houston, Texas; to acquire State Bank Financial Corporation, Atlanta, Georgia, and thereby indirectly acquire State Bank and Trust Company, Macon, Georgia

As an initial matter, this is a request that the FRS immediately send by email to Inner City Press all non-exempt portions of the applications / notices for which the Applicants have requested confidential treatment.

Fair Finance Watch has been tracking Cadence Bank: In 2017 in the Dallas, Texas MSA for convention home purchase loans, Cadence made 99 such loans to whites - and NONE, not a single origination, to African Americans.

In 2017 in the Houston Texas MSA for convention home purchase loans, Cadence made 236 such loans to whites - and only 15 to African Americans, and only 23 to Latinos. This is not in keeping with the aggregate, which made 37,128 such loans to whites, 3151 to African Americans and 8215 to Latinos.

In 2017 in the Birmingham, Alabama MSA for convention home purchase loans, Cadence made 66 such loans to whites - and only ONE to African Americans. Even combining in Table 4-1, it was 79 home purchase loans to whites and only THREE to African Americans.

This should also be address in this proceeding, including at the requested evidentiary hearing:

“Cadence Bank - Racist manager

2800 Post Oak Blvd Suite 101, Houston, TX 77056, USA

I had my 2 business accounts at the Williams tower location, I tried talking to the manager about small business loans she always avoided me looking at me kind of weird whenever I done withdrawals she always asked me why I'm taking money out after 3 months she sent me a Leter saying she's going to be closing my account because I take money out ones a week for payroll and she didn't like that.”

Inner City Press is also concerned about this statement imply gun-jumping, in the investors' call announcing the proposal, here.

Paul Murphy: “Oh boy, you’re right. It’s not in the model. It’s significant. I mean, there is just a lot of overlap. I’ve got a prospect for AloStar. I’m going to see them this afternoon. We can start it on a great potential new piece of business for them today. And there will be more and more of that.”

ICP is requesting evidentiary hearings and that this proposed acquisition, on the current record, not be approved. There is no public benefit." Here's how the Fed boiled it down, with FOIA issues outstanding: "One commenter objected to the proposal on the basis of alleged disparities
in the number of home mortgage loans made by Cadence Bank to African Americans in
the Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas Metropolitan Division (“Dallas MD”) and the
Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area (“Birmingham MSA”), and
to African Americans and Latinos in the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas
Metropolitan Statistical Area (“Houston MSA”), in each case as compared to whites inthe relevant areas, based on data reported under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975 (“HMDA”). The commenter also cited a customer complaint alleging racist
management practices at Cadence Bank." And? On Synovus - FCB, the Fed brags that the Board consulted with the (its) Reserve Bank. And?

December 3, 2018


Targeting of Community Reinvestment Act by Otting Included Favor to WSFS Now Fed Protest by Fair Finance Watch

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

SOUTH BRONX, November 28 – The US Treasury Department is in a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt when he was at the US Environmental Protection Agency, is Comptroller of the Current Joseph Otting. On September 12 Fair Finance Watch (and on FOIA, Inner City Press) commented to the OCC, here. At the November 19 deadline, not (yet) posted was Inner City Press' November 17 fourth comment, just as Otting's OCC absurdly waited 13 days to try to rule it does not have to consider Fair Finance Watch's comments on WSFS Bank.A fifth comment submitted including that "the OCC is already undermining CRA. Our comments to the OCC on WSFS - Beneficial have yet to be acted on. That comment was submitted on November 6. Now on November 19, two weeks later, the OCC has tellingly said it will not consider it - despite a Federal Reserve Board comment period on the same transaction remaining open until at least November 27. The OCC's attempt to ignore substantive criticism of some banks' performance, while Comptroller Otting previously solicited false comments support his OneWest Bank, are a symbol all what is wrong with this process, and today's OCC.
   While if the past is any guide the OCC will forwarded ICP's comment to the FRB by the FRB, we note in this connection that WSFS' comments on the ANPR favor, as Otting clearly does, dulling the LMI focus of CRA to make it easier for banks.  We oppose all of this.

November 26, 2018

Targeting of Community Reinvestment Act by Otting Includes Favor to WSFS Which Disses LMI Focus

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

SOUTH BRONX, November 19 – The US Treasury Department is in a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt when he was at the US Environmental Protection Agency, is Comptroller of the Current Joseph Otting. On September 12 Fair Finance Watch (and on FOIA, Inner City Press) commented to the OCC, here. Now at the November 19 deadline, as of 4 pm, there was 773 comments online, but 802 listed. Among those not (yet?) posted is Inner City Press' November 17 fourth comment, just as Otting's OCC absurdly waited 13 days to try to rule it does not have to consider Fair Finance Watch's comments on WSFS Bank. So, a fifth comment just submitted including that "the OCC is already undermining CRA. Our comments to the OCC on WSFS - Beneficial have yet to be acted on. That comment was submitted on November 6. Now on November 19, two weeks later, the OCC has tellingly said it will not consider it - despite a Federal Reserve Board comment period on the same transaction remaining open until at least November 27. The OCC's attempt to ignore substantive criticism of some banks' performance, while Comptroller Otting previously solicited false comments support his OneWest Bank, are a symbol all what is wrong with this process, and today's OCC.
   While if the past is any guide the OCC will forwarded ICP's comment to the FRB by the FRB, we note in this connection that WSFS' comments on the ANPR favor, as Otting clearly does, dulling the LMI focus of CRA to make it easier for banks.  We oppose all of this.
   Since October 11 the OCC has denied expedited process to our FOIA request(s) for records essential in order to comment on this proposal. OCC Deputy Chief Counsel Charles Steele on November 7 wrote on that “merger between One West Bank and CIT Bank. You do not demonstrate how your request concerns a matter of current exigency to the American public or how a delay in the OCC's response to your request would compromise a significant recognized interest.” Given the false commenting issues in the OneWest - CIT proceeding, and the importance of CRA to our communities, this denial is insulting and further makes this ANPR commenting process, ostensibly closing now on November 19, illegitimate."  Among them, as reviewed by Inner City Press:
Fulton Financial, on which ICP has previously comment, perhaps understandably given its lending record urges “De-couple CRA from Fair Lending... CRA and Fair Lending have complementary but different social and policy objectives. CRA ratings should not be downgraded based on the results of a bank's fair lending performance and exam results.” FFW disagrees: racial discrimination in lending means a bank is NOT meeting the credit needs of its entire community.

The ABA writes that “'needs to improve' CRA rating and should clarify that such a rating will not be a de facto bar to opening new branches or engaging in other activities requiring regulatory approval.” FFW disagrees: a bank with a rare NTI (or Substantial Non-compliance) record should be barred from merging or expanding. This is the enforcement mechanism of CRA.

Th Association of Military Banks of America urges, “Because the financial challenges military communities face are less dependent on income distinctions than in geographically-defined communities, we recommend that all financial services to the military community should be presumed to qualify for CRA credit, regardless of whether the recipient fits within a classic LMI category.” FFW disagrees with this blurring of the lines. Loans to five star generals are not CRA loans.

Heartland Tri State Bank says “Any bank with assets less than One Billion Dollars should not be subject to CRA examinations.” FFW disagrees, precisely because such banks play (or don't play) such a role in the economies of some communities.

   Meanwhile the OCC is already undermining CRA.  The OCC has denied expedited process to our FOIA request(s) for records essential in order to comment on this proposal. OCC Deputy Chief Counsel Charles Steele on November 7 wrote on that “merger between One West Bank and CIT Bank. You do not demonstrate how your request concerns a matter of current exigency to the American public or how a delay in the OCC's response to your request would compromise a significant recognized interest.” Given the false commenting issues in the OneWest - CIT proceeding, and the importance of CRA to our communities, this denial is insulting and further makes this ANPR commenting process, ostensibly closing on November 19, illegitimate, we contend - while joining in NCRC's comments, see below. On November 6 at 5 pm, before any midterm elections results came in, Fair Finance Watch filed comments at deadline with Otting's OCC, on Wilmington Savings Fund Society (WSFS) Bank's application to acquire Beneficial Bank in Philadelphia and closed 30 branches, despite WSFS' disparate lending record: "This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the OCC's public comment period on the Application by WSFS Bank to Acquire Beneficial Bank. In the the Wilmington MSA in 2017, WILMINGTON SAVINGS FUND SOCIETY, FSB (WSFS Bank) had a denial rate for the home purchase loan applications of African Americans that was 5.48 times higher than for whites - an outrage, significantly more disparate that other banks in the market. For Latinos, WSFS Bank was and is worse, with a denial rate for home purchase loans 7.43 times higher for Latinos than for whites.
   This is not a lending record and pattern to impose on Philadelphia. And consider this: if approved, WSFS “plans to close 30 WSFS and Beneficial Bank offices, a quarter."
   See, “WSFS bosses Mark Turner and Rodger Levenson plan to close 30 of the combined companies’ 120 branches and eliminate around 350 of their 2,100 jobs.”
   There is more to say, and there are more markets. But concerned as we are about the OCC seeming to take outrageous disparities even less seriously than before, we ar timely submitting this one, for your action. This is systematic redlining; this proposed acquisition could not legitimately be approved and WSFS Bank should be referred for prosecution for redlining by the Department of Justice and the CFPB. But will today's OCC do it? The branch closings provides a second ground for the requested evidentiary hearing." What will Otting's OCC do?

November 19, 2018