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. See, in November 2021, Inner City Press' book "Belt and Roadkill," here

November 29, 2021

In DC 5 Dems Oppose Saule Omarova as OCC Amid CRA Protest to South State Atlantic Capital

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, Nov 24 – Whether or not the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act will be again enforced until the new Administration and its regulators is an open question.

Then came the news that the Biden Administration nominated Saule Omarova to head the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. While described as "anti big bank" - good - what are her views on CRA, and how would she approach, and deny some, mergers? This got lost in the comrade talk. Now her nomination is said dead, killed by calls by Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) — the panel's chairman — of their opposition.  They joined Sens. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.). So who's next?

Meanwhile the proposed acquisition by South State of Atlantic Capital Bank in Georgia remains 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

November 22, 2021

After Investors Bank Hit With Conditions, CRA Protest To Home BancShares Texas Entry

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, Nov 20 – 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 Home BancShares / Centennial Bank - Happy Bancshares will be litmus tests.

On November 20 Inner City Press filed with the Federal Reserve:

"This is a request for a full copy of, and a timely first comment on, the Applications of South State Corporation to merge with Home BancShares, Inc. to merge with Happy Bancshares, Inc., and thus indirectly acquire Happy State Bank. Fair Finance Watch has been tracking Home BancShares' Centennial Bank, including but not only because it has a branch in New York.

The applicant's Centennial in 2020 in Alabama based on its disparate marketing made 46 mortgage loans to whites, with 19 denials to whites -- while making only NO loans to African Americans. This is far out of keeping with the demographics, and other lenders, in Alabama - this is outrageous. This application should be denied, and a referral made to the Justice Department, as the Fed did far too late on Cadence Bank, whose lesser disparities Inner City Press similarly raised to the Fed.

This is a pattern. Centennial Bank in 2020 in Arkansas based on its disparate marketing made 1943 mortgage loans to whites, with 282 denials to whites -- while making only 113 loans to African Americans, with 37 denials. This is out of keeping with the demographics, and other lenders, in Arkansas, in the state Home BancShares' Centennial Bank presumably performs best.   South State Bank NA in 2020 in New York based on its disparate marketing made a mortgage loan to a white application, and none to African Americans. 

Centenntial Bank in 2020 in Florida based on its disparate marketing made 1591 mortgage loans to whites, with 256 denials to whites -- while making only 52 loans to African Americans, with 16 denials. This is out of keeping with the demographics, and other lenders, in Florida. What could Home BancShares' Centennial be expected to do in Texas?   

FFW and Inner City Press have been deeply concerned about the rush by the Federal Reserve's to rubber-stamp mergers by redliners. This has been killing the Community Reinvestment Act and we timely request public hearings. We have already submitted a FOIA request for all withheld portions of the applications / portions for which confidential treatment has been requested, and for communications. The comment period should be extended; evidentiary hearings should be held; and on the current record, the application should not be approved.

November 15, 2021

After Investors Bank Hit With FDIC Conditions, CRA Protest To BankPlus - First Bank and Trust

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, Nov 13 – 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 now for the FDIC, BankPlus' application to acquire First Bank and Trust will be a litmus test.

On November 12, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press filed with the FDIC:

"This is a first timely comment opposing, requesting hearings and an extension of the comment period on the applications by BankPlus to acquire First Bank and Trust  As an initial matter, this is a request that the FDIC 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 BankPlus:

The applicant BankPlus 2020 in Mississippi based on its disparate marketing made 1918 mortgage loans to whites, with 198 denials to whites -- while making only 211 loans to African Americans, with 80 denials. This is far out of keeping with the demographics, and other lenders, in Mississippi - this is outrageous. This is a pattern.

BankPlus in 2020 in Alabama based on its disparate marketing made 71 mortgage loans to whites, with four denials to whites -- while making NO loans to African Americans. 

  Perhaps most relevant, BankPlus 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 Louisiana based on its disparate marketing made 24 mortgage loans to whites, with eight denials to whites -- while making as in Alabama N) loans to African Americans.    FFW and Inner City Press have been deeply concerned about the rush by the FDIC to rubber-stamp mergers by redliners. This has been killing the Community Reinvestment Act and we timely request public hearings."

November 8, 2021

After Investors Bank Hit With FDIC Conditions, CRA Protests To Community Bank NA - Elmira

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, Nov 6 – 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 now for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Community Bank NA's application to acquire Elmira Savings Bank will be a litmus test.

On October 6, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press filed with the OCC

"This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the OCC's public comment period on Community Bank NA's applications to acquire Elmira Savings Bank.     Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press have long been concerned by disparities in CBNY's lending. Recently, similar disparities at Investors Bank, raised by Inner City Press, triggered conditions on Investors, by the FDIC. See here

 So what's up with the OCC, on CBNA's disparities? 

The applicant Community Bank National Association in 2020 in New York State based on its disparate marketing made 4329 mortgage loans to whites, with 871 denials to whites -- while making only TWENTY SEVEN loans to African Americans, with five denials.  

That is, for CBNA in NYS, 4329 loans to whites versus only 27 to African Americans.  

  In Vermont in 2020, CBNA  based on its disparate marketing made 224 mortgage loans to whites, with 75 denials to whites -- while making only ONE loans to an African American applicant, with one denial.    This application should not be approved, much less at this time."

November 1, 2021

After Investors Bank Hit With FDIC Conditions, Stock Yards Protest Yields Fed CRA Questions

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, Oct 28 – 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. FRB's Oct 27, 2021 letter here.

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).  There is no public benefit to this proposal.    

FFW and Inner City Press have been deeply concerned about the rush by the FRB's penchant to rubberstamp mergers by redliners, particularly during the pandemic - including starting comment periods even before applications are filed and/or publicly available. We have just filed a FOIA request."

Now in late October, Inner City Press is publishing these questions to Stock Yard asked by the Federal Reserve on October 27, full letter here: "October 27, 2021 Mr. Nathan Berger Frost Brown Todd, LLC 400 West Market Street, 32nd Floor Louisville, Kentucky 40202-3363 Dear Mr. Berger:

This letter refers to application submitted by Stock Yards Bancorp, Inc. (“Stock Yards” or  “Applicant”), the parent of state nonmember bank, Stock Yards Bank & Trust Company (“Stock  Yards Bank”), to acquire Commonwealth Bancshares, Inc. (“Commonwealth”), a bank holding  company, and its state nonmember bank subsidiary, Commonwealth Bank & Trust Company (“Commonwealth Bank”), all of Louisville, Kentucky, pursuant to section 3 of the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, as amended. Please provide a complete, detailed response to each of the  following items. Supporting documentation, as appropriate, should be provided.  1. Please confirm whether the merger will result in new products or services at the  resulting bank that are not currently offered by Stock Yard Bank or Commonwealth  Bank. If so, please provide: a. A description of the new products and services that Stock Yards Bank expects  to offer following the merger.  b. A description of how Stock Yards Bank plans to adjust its consumer compliance  program to support these new products and services. c. A description of how Stock Yards Bank plans to adjust its Community  Reinvestment Act program to support these new products and services.

2. Describe any changes to the consumer compliance program at Stock Yards Bank as a  result of the merger, including staffing. Discuss the skills and experience of the Stock  Yards Bank consumer compliance management team and provide an organizational  chart reflecting the consumer compliance function at the pro forma organization.

3. Applicant’s response to Question 19(d) indicates that the merger will result in an  expansion of Stock Yards Bank’s assessment areas and products and services. Discuss  whether the Applicant expects that staff responsible for managing the CRA program  will change following the merger. Mr. Nathan Berger October 27, 2021 Page 2 4. Applicant’s response to Question 20(c) of the Y-3 application shows that the Applicant  plans on closing or consolidating six branches following the merger. a. Indicate whether each branch listed in the response to Question 20(c) is in a  majority-minority census tract. b. Discuss how Stock Yards Bank plans to mitigate the impact of any branches to  be closed in LMI and/or majority-minority communities. 5

. Please provide a list of organizations and community groups, if any, with which Stock  Yards Bank engaged since 2019 to help reach African American borrowers in Kentucky. In your response, please provide detailed information about the partnerships  that Stock Yards Bank engaged in with these organizations and community groups since 2019.

6. Please provide information about Stock Yards Bank’s efforts to reach African  American borrowers in Kentucky, including specialized products and marketing  campaigns, since 2019.

7. Please provide a list of organizations and community groups, if any, with which Commonwealth Bank engaged since 2019 to help reach African American borrowers  in Kentucky. In your response, please provide detailed information about the  partnerships that Commonwealth Bank engaged in with these organizations and  community groups since 2019."

October 25, 2021

As Garland Talks Trustmark Citizens Bank Thumbs Nose At CRA On Investors Bank Test

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, Oct 22 – 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 the proposed acquisition of Investors Bank by Citizens Bank will be a litmus test, one that both Citizens and the regulators are failing.

 DOJ claims to be enforcing, with Merrick B. Garland on October 2 intoning, "settlement with Trustmark National Bank. The agreement resolves allegations that Trustmark engaged in lending discrimination by redlining predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Memphis, Tennessee. We commend Trustmark for its cooperation in swiftly resolving this matter. Through this settlement, Trustmark has shown an interest in remedying past practices and in promoting equal access to credit." But what about larger banks like Citizens and Investors Bank it wants, through a white shoe law firm?

   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 was raised on Citizens' applications: "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."

  But in response to this, Citizens only said dismissively that the record of the acquiree doesn't matter. So they could buy OneCoin? It is major law firm making this argument. It is an embarrassment. And the Federal Reserve's question letter of October 22 (on Patreon here) does not address it, and Citizens' law firm late provide its "answer" and two responses to the Fed.

This application should be denied.  

 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.  

Watch this site.

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 t