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.

November 12, 2018

As Community Reinvestment Act Is Targeted by Otting Inner City Press FOIA Appeal Denied Nov 19 Scam

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

SOUTH BRONX, November 9 – 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 (and soon it would seem to be subject to greater oversight in the House Banking Committee), is Comptroller of the Current Joseph Otting. On September 12 Fair Finance Watch (and on FOIA, Inner City Press) commented to the OCC, here. On October 16, yet more on Otting's assault on the CRA became known. Under him, the OCC has ignored the rare racial redlining settlement by Klein Bank, rubber stamping Old National's acquisition of the bank over the timely and detailed objection and public hearing request of Fair Finance Watch. Otting doesn't like public hearings.  In April 2018 his OCC approved an application by E-Trade Saving Bank which Fair Finance Watch had challenged based on the bank having no fewer than six states rare "Needs to Improve" CRA ratings. FFW noted rare Needs to Improve ratings for the entire states of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Oregon, and an undeserved “Satisfactory” for New York. Otting's OCC, after the approval, helpfully contacted E-Trade Bank to tell it that upon (Otting's) reflection, it was no longer even subject to the Community Reinvestment Act. Another institution was similarly contacted - the OCC under Otting is going through its roster of banks seeing which ones it can "free" from CRA even if they hadn't requested in. In one case, some in the bank still didn't want Otting's freedom and move more business into the bank to get a second reversal of Otting's orders. But it shows where Otting is coming from, beyond the unexplained comment-fraud for which he should be recused. Inner City Press on October 11 raised the E-Trade (and another bank) issue into the record on the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. But, Otting being Otting, his OCC denied expedited processing for Inner City Press' Freedom of Information Act request bout his deregulation move, ruling that "You requested all records in the OCC's possession concerning the applicability of the Community Reinvestment Act to - or exemption there from - any affiliate of E-Trade or Bank of America California NA for the time period of October 11, 2016 to October 11, 2018. You also requested expedited processing of your request on the basis that the ANPR on CRA is open through November 19, 2018. Your request for expedited processing does not meet the criteria provided for in 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6)(E) and Treasury disclosure regulations at 31 C.F.R. 1.5(e)." And that regulation... requires a formal certification. So Inner City Press appealed: "As a  a person primarily engaged in disseminating information, I am appealing the denial of expedited processing of my FOIA request, summarized by the OCC as for all records in the OCC's possession concerning the applicability of the Community Reinvestment Act to - or exemption there from - any affiliate of E-Trade or Bank of America California NA for the time period of October 11, 2016 to October 11, 2018.
...The OCC under Joseph Otting's actions to try to find banks to exempt from CRA outrageous and something on which there is an  urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Federal Government activity. As noted in my request, this is particularly the case given the OCC's unilateral moves regarding the CRA. I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief. Executed on October 16, 2018." Now weeks later, the OCC's Deputy Chief Counsel Charles M. Steele has denied the appeal, claiming it is not clear why the public needs access to these records of Otting's current attacks on CRA before OCC closes its comment period on Otting's new, desperate attempt. The OCC's denial makes light of Otting's actions including soliciting false comments during the public review process of his sale of OneWest Bank to CIT - as if there is no connection to Otting's current gambit. FOIA Denial here and for download on Patreon.

November 5, 2018

  Cadence Bancorporation, who application to acquire State Bank in Georgia Fair Finance Watch challenged, has as its defense that the banks it chose to buy were "problematic." But Cadence chose to buy them. And if it hasn't fixed them yet, why though they get an approval to buy yet another bank? We'll have more on this.

October 29, 2018

As Community Reinvestment Act Is Targeted by Otting Murky Meeting With Citigroup TIAA Wells

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

SOUTH BRONX, October 24 – 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 on October 17, yet more on Otting's assault on the CRA has become known. He has taken to devaluing or lumping together and not putting in the docket or online the comments of community groups, calling them mass comments or form letters - when he himself not only solicited mass comments for the OneWest - CIT merger from which he personally profited, but even got some fraudulent comments. Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch submitted the documents obtained under FOIA into the record before the OCC. Now, on a ten day delay, the OCC has put into the file a cursory memo of its October 12 meeting with bankers ranging from Citigroup (Lloyd Brown and Devika Murray Bacchus), Capital One (James Matthews), TIAA and Regions to Wells Fargo, Fifth Third, Huntington and PNC, among others. This has the trappings of transparency, but none of the substance. Topics of discussion are purportedly listed - but what was said, particularly by the OCC participants: Grovetta Gardineer, Senior Deputy Comptroller
for Compliance and Community Affairs
Beverly Cole, Deputy Comptroller for
Compliance Supervision
Donna Murphy, Deputy Comptroller for
Compliance Risk Policy
Allison Hester-Haddad, Counsel, Chief
Counsel’s Office
Daniel Sufranski, Law Clerk, Chief Counsel’s
Office. Listed but without further detail is, for example, "Logistical issues, including the interrelated nature of the issues raised by the ANPR, the timing of the rulemaking process, participation by the other federal banking agencies, and whether concepts not discussed in the ANPR would remain under a new rule." So what was said? And where is the OCC's response to Inner City Press' previous FOIA request? We will have more on this.

October 22, 2018

As Community Reinvestment Act Is Targeted by Otting He Devalues Comments He Earlier Gamed

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

SOUTH BRONX, October 17 – 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 on October 17, yet more on Otting's assault on the CRA has become known. He has taken to devaluing or lumping together and not putting in the docket or online the comments of community groups, calling them mass comments or form letters - when he himself not only solicited mass comments for the OneWest - CIT merger from which he personally profited, but even got some fraudulent comments. Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch submitted the documents obtained under FOIA into the record before the OCC, stating that "These documents, which must be considered as part of this ANPR and any subsequent formal rulemaking, show that fraudulent comments supporting Otting's OneWest were submitted to the OCC - presumptively attributable to Otting.
The documents show that the OCC sought an explanation from Otting's / OneWest's outside counsel - and the OCC's and Justice Department's response to date reflect that no such explanation was ever provided. The OCC nevertheless approved the merger and even gave weight to the fraudulent comments.  But via the OCC and Regulations.gov websites, we are told "This count refers to the total comment / submissions received on this document, as of 11:59 PM yesterday. Note: Agencies review all submissions, however some agencies may choose to redact, or withhold, certain submissions (or portions thereof) such as those containing private or proprietary information, inappropriate language, or duplicate/near duplicate examples of a mass-mail campaign. This can result in discrepancies between this count and those displayed when conducting searches on the Public Submission document type." At least ten comments, all under the name Ceiba, were bundled as one. Otting is trying to have it both ways, or worse.
Under him, the OCC has ignored the rare racial redlining settlement by Klein Bank, rubber stamping Old National's acquisition of the bank over the timely and detailed objection and public hearing request of Fair Finance Watch. Otting doesn't like public hearings.  In April 2018 his OCC approved an application by E-Trade Saving Bank which Fair Finance Watch had challenged based on the bank having no fewer than six states rare "Needs to Improve" CRA ratings. FFW noted rare Needs to Improve ratings for the entire states of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Oregon, and an undeserved “Satisfactory” for New York. Otting's OCC, after the approval, helpfully contacted E-Trade Bank to tell it that upon (Otting's) reflection, it was no longer even subject to the Community Reinvestment Act. Another institution was similarly contacted - the OCC under Otting is going through its roster of banks seeing which ones it can "free" from CRA even if they hadn't requested in. In one case, some in the bank still didn't want Otting's freedom and move more business into the bank to get a second reversal of Otting's orders. But it shows where Otting is coming from, beyond the unexplained comment-fraud for which he should be recused. Inner City Press on October 11 raised the E-Trade (and another bank) issue into the record on the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. But, Otting being Otting, his OCC denied expedited processing for Inner City Press' Freedom of Information Act request bout his deregulation move, ruling that "You requested all records in the OCC's possession concerning the applicability of the Community Reinvestment Act to - or exemption there from - any affiliate of E-Trade or Bank of America California NA for the time period of October 11, 2016 to October 11, 2018. You also requested expedited processing of your request on the basis that the ANPR on CRA is open through November 19, 2018. Your request for expedited processing does not meet the criteria provided for in 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6)(E) and Treasury disclosure regulations at 31 C.F.R. 1.5(e)." And that regulation... requires a formal certification. So Inner City Press has appealed: "As a  a person primarily engaged in disseminating information, I am appealing the denial of expedited processing of my FOIA request, summarized by the OCC as for all records in the OCC's possession concerning the applicability of the Community Reinvestment Act to - or exemption there from - any affiliate of E-Trade or Bank of America California NA for the time period of October 11, 2016 to October 11, 2018.
...The OCC under Joseph Otting's actions to try to find banks to exempt from CRA outrageous and something on which there is an  urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Federal Government activity. As noted in my request, this is particularly the case given the OCC's unilateral moves regarding the CRA. I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief. Executed on October 16, 2018." Watch this site.

October 15, 2018

As Community Reinvestment Act Is Targeted by Otting Inner City Press Raises His Bid to Free E-Trade From CRA

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

SOUTH BRONX, October 11 – 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 on October 11, more on Otting's assault on the CRA has become known. In April 2018 his OCC approved an application by E-Trade Saving Bank which Fair Finance Watch had challenged based on the bank having no fewer than six states rare "Needs to Improve" CRA ratings. FFW noted rare Needs to Improve ratings for the entire states of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Oregon, and an undeserved “Satisfactory” for New York. Otting's OCC, after the approval, helpfully contacted E-Trade Bank to tell it that upon (Otting's) reflection, it was no longer even subject to the Community Reinvestment Act. Another institution was similarly contacted - the OCC under Otting is going through its roster of banks seeing which ones it can "free" from CRA even if they hadn't requested in. In one case, some in the bank still didn't want Otting's freedom and move more business into the bank to get a second reversal of Otting's orders. But it shows where Otting is coming from, beyond the unexplained comment-fraud for which he should be recused. Inner City Press on October 11 raised the E-Trade (and another bank) issue into the record on the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Many more are resisting Otting, but Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta J. Mester on October 3 said that "the OCC, a part of Treasury, has put out an advance notice of proposed rule-making (ANPR) seeking comment on ways to modernize the CRA regulations. The Federal Reserve is also undertaking efforts aimed at ensuring that the CRA regulations continue to meet the goals of the legislation amid the evolving financial services environment" - with these as her footnotes for that: "Brainard, Lael, “Community Development in Baltimore and A Few Observations on Community Reinvestment Act Modernization,” Baltimore, Maryland, April 17, 2018a and Brainard, Lael, “Keeping Community at the Heart of the Community Reinvestment Act,” New York, NY, May 18, 2018b. Both of those Brainard speeches were before Otting's proposals. And since? In the docket file as of October 8 are 42 comments, now including the President of  First National Bank & Trust in Elk City, Oklahoma who writes, "I firmly believe that this form of oversite was meant for metropolitan areas and banks with multiple branches. There’s got to be a better way of monitoring and locating those banks that aren’t helping the population it serves. I would be surprised to find there are very many banks that fail the CRA examination." It's called grade inflation. On September 29 The Intercept has dug into it, citing FFW's formal request that Otting recuse himself - and so here now are some of the Freedom of Information Act documents.

October 8, 2018

As Community Reinvestment Act Is Targeted by Otting He Back Pedals in Senate As Inner City Press Urges Recusal

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

SOUTH BRONX, October 2 – The US Treasury Department has begun a process 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. On September 29 The Intercept has dug into it, citing FFW's formal request that Otting recuse himself - and so here now are some of the Freedom of Information Act documents. On October 2 in the Senate Banking Committee, Otting insisted he is not trying to weaken the CRA; he called the ANPR an "Advanced Notice of Public Rulemaking" instead of Proposed. He said he met with 1100 individuals - still undisclosed - and expects five to ten thousand comments on the ANPR. (So far there are 33 listed but only 29 visible). Senator Sherrod Brown began by asking him indirectly about the blogs at CFPB of Eric Blankenstein. We'll have more on this. And this - as obtained by Inner City Press and fellow NCRC member CRC, here are more of the documents, for (this time) free download on Patreon.

 Now on October 1 Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch has submitted the documents obtained under FOIA into the record before the OCC, stating that "These documents, which must be considered as part of this ANPR and any subsequent formal rulemaking, show that fraudulent comments supporting Otting's OneWest were submitted to the OCC - presumptively attributable to Otting.
The documents show that the OCC sought an explanation from Otting's / OneWest's outside counsel - and the OCC's and Justice Department's response to date reflect that no such explanation was ever provided. The OCC nevertheless approved the merger and even gave weight to the fraudulent comments. On this record we again insist that Otting be recused from this ANPR and any related rulemaking or proceedings. We have other substantive concerns about this ANPR but view the question of Mr Otting's recusal (and of with whom he has met, on which Inner City Press has another long-pending FOIA request) as threshold matter than must be addressed as quickly as possible."


October 1, 2018

As Community Reinvestment Act Is Targeted by Otting The Intercept Notes Inner City Press Urging Recusal

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

SOUTH BRONX, September 29 – The US Treasury Department has begun a process to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. 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. And now on September 29 The Intercept has dug into it, citing FFW's formal request that Otting recuse himself - and so here now are some of the FOIA documents, obtained by Inner City Press and fellow NCRC member CRC, and pro bono lawyer Lindsey Krause of Nichols Kaster.  Here are more of the documents, for (this time) free download on Patreon.

 One of the issues raised, that of Otting's role in previous fraudulent commenting to the OCC in support of his own bank OneWest's merger with CIT in 2015 has come to the fore. Relatedly, the FOIA document as provided by the OCC and US Department of Justice reflect that the OCC never follow up on its lone (and wan) question to Otting's counsel as Sullivan & Cromwell to explain the fraudulent comments. Nor did this counsel respond to questions from The Intercept's David Dayen, who reports: "AFTER A YEARLONG effort to obtain the information, which included ongoing litigation, the OCC made available 15 pages. They contain emails to and from David Finnegan, an OCC senior licensing analyst who was a point of contact for public comment on the merger.

Four individuals contended in emails to Finnegan that they never sent the comment letters supporting the merger. “This is to bring to your attention that I received an email from the office of OCC regarding a subject I am completely unaware of,” wrote one individual (the OCC redacted the emailers’ identifying information). “I DID NOT send the email below that you responded to. This is a fraudulent use of my email account.” The other three sent similar complaints.

The letter of support attributed to these individuals was identical to the letter posted at the OneWest Bank website.

Matthew Lee of Inner City Press expressed outrage at the fake comments. “There’s nothing more offensive of speech rights than artificially presenting someone as saying something you don’t believe,” Lee said. “You have the right to be silent. It’s so beyond the pale.”

FOIA Finds: OneWest CIT Ban... by on Scribd


Finnegan responded to these emailers, thanking them for letting him know. He also sent two emails to Stephen Salley, an attorney with Sullivan & Cromwell, who was representing OneWest in the merger. “FYI and review. We would appreciate any information you can provide regarding this submission,” Finnegan wrote to Salley on both occasions.

Presumably, Finnegan reached out to OneWest’s lawyer about the fake comments because they featured the same form letter that OneWest had written to encourage public support. But the two emails are the only record that OCC did any investigation of the fake comments. There is no reply from Salley or Sullivan & Cromwell to the OCC, at least not in written form. “By reaching out to the attorneys immediately, it suggests something serious, and yet there’s no follow-up that’s apparent whatsoever,” said Kevin Stein of the California Reinvestment Coalition...Olivia Weiss, a spokesperson for CIT, forwarded a request for comment to her colleague Gina Proia, who declined to comment. Salley did not respond when asked whether he or his law firm responded to the OCC....In his public comment for Inner City Press, Lee asked for Otting to recuse himself from the new rule-making, highlighting the fake comment controversy. “Public participation is key to CRA, on performance evaluations and crucially on bank merger and expansion applications,” Lee wrote. He added that it’s unclear whether the OCC has improved its processes to prevent fake comments from being submitted again in the CRA rule-making. The public comment period ends in November.

Otting is scheduled to appear at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on October 2, where his CRA push could be a topic of discussion." We'll have more on this Why didn't the OCC more seriously look into this fraud? What has been improved since? Shouldn't Otting be recused, as Fair Finance Watch has already timely requested?

September 24, 2018

As Community Reinvestment Act Is Targeted by Otting Net Neutrality Echo FFW Urges Recusal to OCC

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

SOUTH BRONX, September 17 – The US Treasury Department has begun a process to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt until recently 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, the 14th comment so far, here. But one of the issues raised, that of Otting's role in previous fraudulent commenting to the OCC in support of his own bank OneWest's merger with CIT in 2015 has come to the fore. Why didn't the OCC more seriously look into this fraud? What has been improved since? Shouldn't Otting be recused, as Fair Finance Watch has already timely requested? One analogy is to the gaming of the FCC's process on net neutrality, when even Senator Jeff Merkley and Pat Toomey's identities were borrowed, as reported by the Washington Post's Hamza Shaban.  Unlike Otting to date, at least the FCC's Ajit Pai responded, if only to blame David Bray, as reported by Adam Jacobson in RBR. Otting simple refuses to answer - for now. From the Fair Finance Watch / Inner City Press comment: "Fair Finance Watch (and where applicable Inner City Press) appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Office of the Comptroller of the Currencys (OCC) Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) regarding the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). CRA has leveraged significant amounts of loans and investments for low- and moderate-income communities.

We began enforcing the CRA in the South Bronx then beyond starting in 1994, in connection with the applications for mergers or expansions on which banks' records are considered. Numerous banks excluded the South Bronx and Upper Manhattan from their CRA assessment areas even though, as we proved, they collected substantial deposits from area residents. We got six banks to open branches and make lending commitments, in the Bronx and beyond.

We concerned that the OCC's proposal threatens to weaken CRA, see below. As as relevant here, we commented along with others on the CIT - OneWest proceeding, and were concerned both by OneWest's record under now-Comptroller Otting and by what emerged as the gaming of the system with pre-fabricated comments Otting openly solicited. We may comment in more detail on this later in his ANPR proceeding.

For now we wish raise particular concern about the approach signaled by Questions 21 and 15 and to emphasize that public participate is key to CRA, on performance evaluations and crucially on bank merger and expansion applications. Inner City Press, which often submits FOIA requests to the OCC (which is, frankly, slow), the Federal Reserve, FDIC and even non-USA regulators many of whom are faster than the OCC, emphasizes that comment periods should never close while information that is not specifically exempt from disclosure under FOIA is being withheld. Inner City Press has pending with the OCC, but not yet responded to, FOIA requests related to this proceeding / process, that should be responded to in full, including any necessary appeal, during this proceeding.

If the OCC proceeds to significantly diminish the importance of assessment areas on CRA exams, the progress in increasing lending to low- and moderate-income neighborhoods will be halted. NCRC estimates that low- and moderate-income neighborhoods could lose up to $105 billion in home and small business lending nationally over a five year time period. We join in the comments of NCRC, of which we are members... We urge the OCC to go back to the drawing board and develop reform proposals with the Federal Reserve Board and the FDIC.

And, for the reasons above and yet to be submitted, we contend Comptroller Otting should be recused from this process. Thank you for your attention to this."

While Reuters blandly noted that he is "a former banker," the bank he headed, OneWest, was accused of predatory lending and when its acquisition by the CIT Group was challenged by Fair Finance Watch, CRC and others Otting arranged for seemingly counterfeit or compelled comments supporting the merger. In this light, Question 11 of his "Advanced Notice of Proposal Rulemaking" or ANPR is noteworthy: "11. How can community involvement be included in an evaluation process that uses a
metric-based framework?" How, indeed. Here's what Otting wrote as a banker, already long public, in support of his merger:

"From: Otting, Joseph M [at] owb.com
Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2015 5:00 PM
Cc: Haas, Alesia Jeanne; Tran, Cindy; Kim, Glenn
Subject: Support For OneWest Bank
 
Dear Friends,
 
We were excited to announce on July 21, 2014, that IMB HoldCo LLC, the parent company of OneWest Bank entered into a merger agreement with CIT Group Inc. As part of the applications for regulatory approval of the transaction, our regulators are interested in the perspectives of the public. We are writing you to seek your support of the Bank and pending merger. This merger, if approved, would create the largest bank headquartered in Southern California with a full suite of banking products and services, which will allow us to better serve our customers. We would retain and grow jobs and are committed to continuing and expanding our efforts to serve the economic and development needs of our community. I would like to ask you to take a moment to click on the link below and submit a letter of support adding any of your own words or thoughts.
 
Please submit your letter by clicking here, or by visiting our website at www.OneWestBank.com/merger-support (if the link isn't clickable or part of the link is cut off, please copy and paste the entire URL into your browser's address bar and press Enter)
 
Thank you for your support.  Best wishes for a successful 2015 and please call on me if I can ever be of assistance.
 
Joseph M. Otting
President and CEO
OneWest Bank N.A.
888 East Walnut Street
Pasadena, CA 91101"

   There will be fight-back, under NCRC's TreasureCRA campaign. Watch this site - including on actual enforcement of CRA.

September 17, 2018

As Community Reinvestment Act Is Targeted by Otting Fair Finance Watch Urges Recusal to OCC

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

SOUTH BRONX, September 12 – The US Treasury Department has begun a process to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt until recently 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, the 14th comment so far, here. From the comment: "Fair Finance Watch (and where applicable Inner City Press) appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Office of the Comptroller of the Currencys (OCC) Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) regarding the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). CRA has leveraged significant amounts of loans and investments for low- and moderate-income communities.

We began enforcing the CRA in the South Bronx then beyond starting in 1994, in connection with the applications for mergers or expansions on which banks' records are considered. Numerous banks excluded the South Bronx and Upper Manhattan from their CRA assessment areas even though, as we proved, they collected substantial deposits from area residents. We got six banks to open branches and make lending commitments, in the Bronx and beyond.

We concerned that the OCC's proposal threatens to weaken CRA, see below. As as relevant here, we commented along with others on the CIT - OneWest proceeding, and were concerned both by OneWest's record under now-Comptroller Otting and by what emerged as the gaming of the system with pre-fabricated comments Otting openly solicited. We may comment in more detail on this later in his ANPR proceeding.

For now we wish raise particular concern about the approach signaled by Questions 21 and 15 and to emphasize that public participate is key to CRA, on performance evaluations and crucially on bank merger and expansion applications. Inner City Press, which often submits FOIA requests to the OCC (which is, frankly, slow), the Federal Reserve, FDIC and even non-USA regulators many of whom are faster than the OCC, emphasizes that comment periods should never close while information that is not specifically exempt from disclosure under FOIA is being withheld. Inner City Press has pending with the OCC, but not yet responded to, FOIA requests related to this proceeding / process, that should be responded to in full, including any necessary appeal, during this proceeding.

If the OCC proceeds to significantly diminish the importance of assessment areas on CRA exams, the progress in increasing lending to low- and moderate-income neighborhoods will be halted. NCRC estimates that low- and moderate-income neighborhoods could lose up to $105 billion in home and small business lending nationally over a five year time period. We join in the comments of NCRC, of which we are members... We urge the OCC to go back to the drawing board and develop reform proposals with the Federal Reserve Board and the FDIC.

And, for the reasons above and yet to be submitted, we contend Comptroller Otting should be recused from this process. Thank you for your attention to this."

While Reuters blandly noted that he is "a former banker," the bank he headed, OneWest, was accused of predatory lending and when its acquisition by the CIT Group was challenged by Fair Finance Watch, CRC and others Otting arranged for seemingly counterfeit or compelled comments supporting the merger. In this light, Question 11 of his "Advanced Notice of Proposal Rulemaking" or ANPR is noteworthy: "11. How can community involvement be included in an evaluation process that uses a
metric-based framework?" How, indeed. Here's what Otting wrote as a banker, already long public, in support of his merger:

"From: Otting, Joseph M [at] owb.com
Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2015 5:00 PM
Cc: Haas, Alesia Jeanne; Tran, Cindy; Kim, Glenn
Subject: Support For OneWest Bank
 
Dear Friends,
 
We were excited to announce on July 21, 2014, that IMB HoldCo LLC, the parent company of OneWest Bank entered into a merger agreement with CIT Group Inc. As part of the applications for regulatory approval of the transaction, our regulators are interested in the perspectives of the public. We are writing you to seek your support of the Bank and pending merger. This merger, if approved, would create the largest bank headquartered in Southern California with a full suite of banking products and services, which will allow us to better serve our customers. We would retain and grow jobs and are committed to continuing and expanding our efforts to serve the economic and development needs of our community. I would like to ask you to take a moment to click on the link below and submit a letter of support adding any of your own words or thoughts.
 
Please submit your letter by clicking here, or by visiting our website at www.OneWestBank.com/merger-support (if the link isn't clickable or part of the link is cut off, please copy and paste the entire URL into your browser's address bar and press Enter)
 
Thank you for your support.  Best wishes for a successful 2015 and please call on me if I can ever be of assistance.
 
Joseph M. Otting
President and CEO
OneWest Bank N.A.
888 East Walnut Street
Pasadena, CA 91101"

   There will be fight-back, under NCRC's TreasureCRA campaign. Watch this site - including on actual enforcement of CRA. A bank that was sued by the US Justice Department in 2017 for redlining and discrimination is trying to sell itself to Old National, and Fair Finance Watch has formally challenged it under the Community Reinvestment Act in a filing to the Federal Reserve on the last day of the comment period.

September 10, 2018

Mulvaney's Moves Against Disparate Impact At CFPB Opposed As CRA Targeted by Otting at OCC

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

SOUTH BRONX, September 6 – With the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Mick Mulvaney moving to undermine liability for disparate impact discrimination, state Attorneys General from New York and 13 other states have delivered a letter of opposition, on September 5. NY AG Barbara Underwood said, "the Equal Credit Opportunity Act was enacted because of our country’s sordid history of credit discrimination — and it’s unbelievable that the CFPB is considering refusing to use it to protect consumers." The letter  signed by the attorneys general of North Carolina, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and the District of Columbia stated that they "will not hesitate to uphold the law if CFPB acts in a manner contrary to law with respect to interpreting ECOA." We'll have more on that - and this: the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting on August 28 began a process to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Now in September he has given conditional approval to a fintech bank, Varo Bank of Varo Money, which will include only Salt Lake City, Utah in its CRA assessment area. The CEO is Colin Walsh, previously of scandal plagued Wells Fargo. But will the FDIC, which has not for now joined Otting's crusade, hand out deposit insurance?

September 3, 2018

As Community Reinvestment Act Is Targeted by Otting His OCC's Notice to Community Is Silent As Banks Cheer

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

SOUTH BRONX, August 29 – The US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting on August 28 began a process to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. But on August 29 when the OCC purported to solicit public comments for the CRA evaluation of banks in the fourth quarter of 2018 and even first quarter of 2019, the OCC's notice did not even mention or link to Otting's proposal to change the CRA. Here is what the OCC e-mailed out on August 29. So the community is not informed - but the industy is. Even open sources are full of banks and their lobbying groups celebrating and preparing to support Otting's proposal(s). From Louisiana, there is this: "GAME FACE ConsumerBankers GC Steve Zeisel is ready for today’s Membership Call regarding the @USOCC ANPR on #cra. #intense. #focus." On the other hands, there's this, on and of which we'll have more. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt until recently at the US Environmental Protection Agency, is Joe Otting. While Reuters blandly noted that he is "a former banker," the bank he headed, OneWest, was accused of predatory lending and when its acquisition by the CIT Group was challenged by Fair Finance Watch, CRC and others Otting arranged for seemingly counterfeit or compelled comments supporting the merger. In this light, Question 11 of his "Advanced Notice of Proposal Rulemaking" or ANPR is noteworthy: "11. How can community involvement be included in an evaluation process that uses a
metric-based framework?" How, indeed. Here's what Otting wrote as a banker, already long public, in support of his merger:

"From: Otting, Joseph M [at] owb.com
Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2015 5:00 PM
Cc: Haas, Alesia Jeanne; Tran, Cindy; Kim, Glenn
Subject: Support For OneWest Bank
 
Dear Friends,
 
We were excited to announce on July 21, 2014, that IMB HoldCo LLC, the parent company of OneWest Bank entered into a merger agreement with CIT Group Inc. As part of the applications for regulatory approval of the transaction, our regulators are interested in the perspectives of the public. We are writing you to seek your support of the Bank and pending merger. This merger, if approved, would create the largest bank headquartered in Southern California with a full suite of banking products and services, which will allow us to better serve our customers. We would retain and grow jobs and are committed to continuing and expanding our efforts to serve the economic and development needs of our community. I would like to ask you to take a moment to click on the link below and submit a letter of support adding any of your own words or thoughts.
 
Please submit your letter by clicking here, or by visiting our website at www.OneWestBank.com/merger-support (if the link isn't clickable or part of the link is cut off, please copy and paste the entire URL into your browser's address bar and press Enter)
 
Thank you for your support.  Best wishes for a successful 2015 and please call on me if I can ever be of assistance.
 
Joseph M. Otting
President and CEO
OneWest Bank N.A.
888 East Walnut Street
Pasadena, CA 91101"

   There will be fight-back, under NCRC's TreasureCRA campaign. Watch this site

August 27, 2018

Redlining Klein Bank Wants to Sell Out to Old National But Fair Finance Watch Challenges to Fed

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

NEW YORK, August 24 – A bank that was sued by the US Justice Department in 2017 for redlining and discrimination is trying to sell itself to Old National, and Fair Finance Watch has formally challenged it under the Community Reinvestment Act in a filing to the Federal Reserve on the last day of the comment period. From the filing: "This is a timely first comment opposing the Applications of Old National Bancorp to merge with Klein Financial, Inc., Chaska, Minnesota, and thereby indirectly acquire KleinBank, also of Chaska, Minnesota.

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.

  It was only last year that “the U.S. Justice Department accused Chaska-based KleinBank of redlining, the illegal practice of denying mortgage loans to minority residents. Lawyers from the department's civil rights division said KleinBank engaged in discrimination in Minneapolis and St. Paul by failing to market its services and open bank branches in areas dominated by minorities. KleinBank, which operates 21 branches in mostly outer-ring suburbs of the Twin Cities, is one of Minnesota's largest community banks. 'KleinBank's discriminatory practices … have been intentional and willful, and implemented with reckless disregard for the rights of individuals on the basis of their race and/or national origin,' the complaint said.”

   Now, attempting to cash in / out of that discrimination, Klein Bank seeks to sell, to Old National which has its own insufficient records. Fair Finance Watch has been tracking Old National:
In 2012 in its Evansville (Headquarters) MSA for conventional home purchase loans back in 2012, Old National Bank made only six such loans to African Americans. In 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, Old National made only THREE such loans to African Americans.  In Table 4-1, in 2012 it made three such loans to African Americans. In 2016 this fell to one.
Old National has gotten worse. It cannot be allowed to acquire Klein so recently prosecuted for discrimination.
 (Separately, note that in Evansville MSA in 2016, Old National reported a 100% approved and originated rate for both African Americans and Latinos, until in other MSAs - this is not credible, presumptively indicates pre-screening and should be investigated in connection with this Klein proposal.)
   For refinance loans in Evansville in 2012, Old National made eight such loans to African Americans. This fell to four in 2016.
   For home improvement loans in the Evansville MSA, Old National in 2012 made five such loans to African Americans. This fell to four in 2016.
   For refinance loans in Indianapolis in 2012, Old National made 18 such loans to African Americans. This fell to a mere seven in 2016, when Old National denied 62% of applications from African Americans (see above). 
Old National has gotten much worse. It cannot be allowed to acquire Klein so recently prosecuted for discrimination.
  Also troubling regarding Old National is its history of branch closings. According to its hometown newspaper the Evansville Courier News & Press
 "since 2004 Old National has purchased 175 banking offices, either through acquiring smaller financial institutions or buying selected office locations. Old National has also shed 140 banking offices by consolidating 121 locations and by selling 19 other offices."
 Old National is a bank with a disparate lending record that specializes in buying and closing bank branches - now it seeks to acquire Klein Bank prosecuted only last year for redlining.
  ICP is requesting evidentiary hearings and that this proposed acquisition, on the current record, not be approved. There is no public benefit." We'll have more on this

August 20, 2018

The American Bankers Association loves Otting, this is their write up, on which we will have more, much more: "The OCC yesterday updated its policies and procedures manual to clarify its policy and methodology for determining how evidence of discrimination or illegal credit practices will affect a bank’s Community Reinvestment Act rating. The updated version replaces a previous edition of the manual issued in October 2017.

Importantly, the updated manual maintains the OCC’s position that there be a logical nexus between the CRA rating and evidence of discriminatory or illegal credit practices. The revisions clarify that in assigning a CRA rating, the OCC first evaluates a bank’s CRA performance for the applicable time period and then makes any adjustments that are warranted based on evidence of discriminatory or other illegal credit practices. The OCC also clarified that its general policy is to downgrade the rating by only one rating level unless such illegal practices are found to be particularly egregious.

The OCC reiterated that its policy is “generally not to penalize a bank by lowering its CRA rating when examiners have determined the bank has taken appropriate remedial actions." Outrageous.

August 13, 2018

We are following,at the CFPB,  the nomination of Kathy Kraninger to continue Mick Mulvaney's deconstruction of the agency now that

Leandra English has left, and the ongoing attempt by the OCC's Joe Otting to eliminate geographic assessment areas under the CRA, and to start handing out fintech bank charters. #TreasureCRA!


  See, "The Growing Power of Big Banks Like JPMorgan May Cause Community Banks to Merge," https://www.thestreet.com/video/growing-power-of-big-banks-like-jpmorgan-may-cause-community-banks-to-merge-14668270

  Globally, in India bank unions are fighting mergers: "Bank staffs take out rally in Kolkata against privatisation, merger of PSBs" https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/bank-staffs-take-out-rally-in-kolkata-against-privatisation-merger-of-psbs-118072800758_1.html

Deutsche Bank Watch: "Deutsche Bank profit down on weak trading revenue" https://www.marketwatch.com/story/deutsche-bank-profit-down-on-weak-trading-revenue-2018-07-25

Merger and branch closing fall-out: "Associated Bank to sell 27 properties to two Milwaukee developers" https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2018/07/22/associated-bank-to-sell-27-properties-to-two.html

August 6, 2018

With OCC To Hand Out Fintech Bank Charters NY Regulator Slams It But Lets First Republic Redline

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

NEW YORK, July 31 – The US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, who said he's never witnessed discrimination and is poised to attack the Community Reinvestment Act, today announced he'll be giving out "fintech" bank charters. CRA won't apply. Instead, the announcement vaguely says, "The expectations for promoting financial inclusion will depend on the company’s business model and the types of planned products, services, and activities." But what to expect of the OCC of Otting? When at OneWest, he arranged for Astro-turf and even fake public comments supporting its acquisition by the CIT Group. Later on July 31 New York regulator Maria T. Vullo issued this: "The New York State Department of Financial Services fiercely opposes the Department of Treasury’s endorsement of regulatory ‘sandboxes’ for financial technology companies. The idea that innovation will flourish only by allowing companies to evade laws that protect consumers, and which also safeguard markets and mitigate risk for the financial services industry, is preposterous. Toddlers play in sandboxes.  Adults play by the rules. Companies that truly want to create change and thrive over the long-term appreciate the importance of developing their ideas and protecting their customers within a strong state regulatory framework. DFS also strong opposes today’s decision by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to begin accepting applications for national bank charters from nondepository financial technology (fintech) companies.  DFS believes that this endeavor, which is also wrongly supported by the Treasury Department, is clearly not authorized under the National Bank Act. As DFS has noted since the OCC’s proposal, a national fintech charter will impose an entirely unjustified federal regulatory scheme on an already fully functional and deeply rooted state regulatory landscape." Sounds good -- but NYS DFS has for example allowed First Republic Bank to redline The Bronx, and hasn't even confirmed receipt of a timely comment opposing it. We'll have more on this - and on this: First Republic Bank, which excludes The Bronx as well as Brooklyn and Queens from its assessment area while funding outer borough slumlords, has applied to New York bank regulators to open another branch in Manhattan. Fair Finance Watch has filed opposition, along with Inner City Press, also citing FRB's record of displacement in California:  On behalf of Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch (ICP), this is a timely comment opposing the application by First Republic Bank to open a new insured deposit-taking facility at 329 Tenth Avenue, Borough of Manhattan, City of New York 10001. First Republic Bank is engaged in redlining. Its branches in New York are entirely in Manhattan, and only in the most affluent sections. It excludes from its CRA Assessment Area, in their entirety, the boroughs of The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. This is an outrage, and that ICP had thought was no longer allowed by regulars. (ICP previously challenged and got changes such exclusionary Assessment Areas at Bank of New York, HSBC, predecessors of Bank of America and others). Cynically, while excluding the outer boroughs from its assessment area, First Republic Bank does business with landlords who have been described as slumlords, such as Moshe Piller. See, e.g., Daily News, “Moshe Piller, owner of the Hunts Point Ave. building in the Bronx where two children died when a faulty radiator spewed steam into their bedroom.” (ICP also takes note of the San Francisco analysis of its fellow NCRC member CRC). Fair Finance Watch has reviewed First Republic Bank's most recent publicly available HMDA data for the NYC MSA and, for home purchase loans, find that FRB made 283 such loans to whites, and only three each to Latino and  African American applicants. Its denial rate disparity is astronomical: 20% denial rate for African American, less than 1% for whites. Again: First Republic Bank is a redliner. For all of these reasons, First Republic Bank's applications should be denied." We'll have more on this

July 30, 2018


People's United Bank's Bid to Buy Farmington Challenged by Fair Finance Watch on Lending Disparities

By Matthew R. Lee, Video

NEW YORK, July 28 – People's United Bank, which has applied to buy Farmington Bank in Connecticut, has become more and not less disparate in its lending, as shown by analysis of U.S. Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data by Fair Finance Watch submitted to the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency by Inner City Press in opposition to the proposed merger. From the timely July 27 filing: "This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the OCC's public comment period on the Application by People's United Bank to acquire Farmington Bank.
  In the the New York City MSA in 2014, People's United made 82 home purchase loans to whites and NONE to African Americans or Latinos.   We note that People's has been in these markets since 2010 -- NOT “recently” -- and that New York City is not the “Lower Hudson Valley. Then we found that in 2015 in the New York City MSA, People's United made 110 home purchase loans to whites and only ONE to an African American and only four to Latinos.
  In 2016, the most recent year for which HMDA data is publicly available, People's got even worse: in the NYC MSA it made 144 home purchase loans to whites (more than in 2015) and still only one to an African American.
   For refinance loans in the New York City MSA in 2014, People's United made 24 loans to whites, 1 to an African American and four to Hispanics. By 2016, it was again worse: 165 loans to whites and only two to African Americans.
This is systematic redlining; this proposed acquisition could not legitimately be approved and People's United should be referred for prosecution for redlining by the Department of Justice and CFPB.
   People's United record is hardly sufficient in the Hartford MSA where it now proposes to acquire Farmington Bank. In 2016 in the Hartford MSA, People's United made 162 home purchase loans to whites and only 10 to African Americans and only 14 to Latinos.
  Again, this is systematic redlining; this proposed acquisition could not legitimately be approved and People's United should be referred for prosecution for redlining by the Department of Justice and CFPB.
     In this context, the comment period should be extended so that public evidentiary hearings can be held, and the application should be denied." We'll have more on this

July 23, 2018

 On July 19, When asked about Hurricane Maria, Kathy Kraninger wouldn’t address her role in providing disaster funds as part of the response in Puerto Rico. When asked about the matter, Kraninger responded that she didn't "'think it was appropriate to characterize…advice'" she gave to the administration...

July 16, 2018

First Republic Bank Excluding All Bronxites But Slumlords Wants 9th Manhattan Branch, Opposed

By Matthew R. Lee, Video

THE BRONX, July 14 – First Republic Bank, which excludes The Bronx as well as Brooklyn and Queens from its assessment area while funding outer borough slumlords, has applied to New York bank regulators to open another branch in Manhattan. Fair Finance Watch has filed opposition, along with Inner City Press, also citing FRB's record of displacement in California:  On behalf of Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch (ICP), this is a timely comment opposing the application by First Republic Bank to open a new insured deposit-taking facility at 329 Tenth Avenue, Borough of Manhattan, City of New York 10001. First Republic Bank is engaged in redlining. Its branches in New York are entirely in Manhattan, and only in the most affluent sections. It excludes from its CRA Assessment Area, in their entirety, the boroughs of The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. This is an outrage, and that ICP had thought was no longer allowed by regulars. (ICP previously challenged and got changes such exclusionary Assessment Areas at Bank of New York, HSBC, predecessors of Bank of America and others). Cynically, while excluding the outer boroughs from its assessment area, First Republic Bank does business with landlords who have been described as slumlords, such as Moshe Piller. See, e.g., Daily News, “Moshe Piller, owner of the Hunts Point Ave. building in the Bronx where two children died when a faulty radiator spewed steam into their bedroom.” (ICP also takes note of the San Francisco analysis of its fellow NCRC member CRC). Fair Finance Watch has reviewed First Republic Bank's most recent publicly available HMDA data for the NYC MSA and, for home purchase loans, find that FRB made 283 such loans to whites, and only three each to Latino and  African American applicants. Its denial rate disparity is astronomical: 20% denial rate for African American, less than 1% for whites. Again: First Republic Bank is a redliner. For all of these reasons, First Republic Bank's applications should be denied." We'll have more on this

July 9, 2018

Last week Leandra English dropped her lawsuit against Mulvaney at the CFPB and said, “In light of the recent nomination of a new director. I will be stepping down from my position at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau early next week.” But on Kathy Kraninger, see below...

July 2, 2018

Bank of America Gets Sued For Discriminatory Maintenance While Citigroup Brags At UN About Renewables

By Matthew R. Lee, Video

NEW YORK, June 27 – Bank of America has been sued for failure to maintain properties it forecloses on in communities of color. Nationwide, the lawsuit contends, 45 percent of the Bank of America properties in communities of color had 10 or more
maintenance or marketing deficiencies, while only 11 percent of the Bank of America properties in predominantly white neighborhoods had 10 or more maintenance or
marketing deficiencies. 64 percent of the Bank of America properties in communities of color had trash or debris visible on the property, while only 31 percent of the Bank of America properties in predominantly white neighborhoods had trash visible on the property. 37 percent of the Bank of America properties in communities of color had unsecured or broken doors, while only 16 percent of the Bank of America properties in predominantly
white neighborhoods had unsecured or broken doors. 49.6 percent of the Bank of America properties in communities of color had damaged, boarded, or unsecured windows, while only 23.5 percent of the Bank of America properties in white neighborhoods had damaged, boarded or unsecured windows.

  In Milwaukee, for example, recently profiled in the book "Evicted," the lawsuit cites 134 Bank of America REO properties. Of these 134 REO properties, 74 were located in African American neighborhoods, 21 were located in predominantly Latino neighborhoods, eight were located in predominantly nonwhite
neighborhoods, and 31 were located in predominantly white neighborhoods. 83.9% of the REO properties in predominantly white neighborhoods had fewer than five maintenance or marketing deficiencies, while only 21.4% of REO properties in neighborhoods of color had fewer than 5 maintenance or marketing deficiencies. 78.6% of REO properties in neighborhoods of color had 5 or more marketing or maintenance deficiencies, while only 16.1% of the REO properties in white neighborhoods had 5 or more marketing or maintenance deficiencies. 8.7% of REO properties in neighborhoods of color had 10 or more marketing or maintenance deficiencies, while none of the REO properties in white neighborhoods had 10 or more marketing or maintenance deficiencies. Some including the Fair Finance Watch notice similar disparities in Milwaukee when it comes to the placement of the Bublr bike share program. Maybe Bank of America will want to put its name on the disparate network, as Citibank has in New York with disparately placed CitiBike.

June 25, 2018

In NY Court CFPB Deemed Unconstitutional and Dropped from Case, Hold on Kraninger

By Matthew R. Lee, Patreon

NEW YORK, June 22 – The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Mick Mulvany has moved to disband the statutory Consumer Advisory Board, Mulvaney told the 23 board members at 11 am on June 6. Now a Federal judge in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York has dropped the CFPB from the case against RD Legal Funding LLC, ruling that its structure is unconstitutional (contrary to decisions in the DC Circuit of Appeals). Judge Loretta Preska wrote that "because the CFPB’s structure is unconstitutional, it lacks the authority to bring claims under the [Consumer Financial Protection Act] and is hereby terminated as a party to this action." Then Judge Preska recommended eliminating the section in the 2010 Dodd-Frank law that established the CFPB.

June 18, 2018

In DC to Head CFPB Mulvaney OMB Staffer Kathy Kraninger Is Nominated, Experience Questioned

By Matthew R. Lee, Patreon

NEW YORK, June 16 – The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Mick Mulvany has moved to disband the statutory Consumer Advisory Board, Mulvaney told the 23 board members at 11 am on June 6. Now on Saturday June 16 Kathy Kraninger, who works for Mulvaney at the Office of Management and Budget, has been nominated to take over the CFPB.  She previously worked at the Department of Homeland Security and, it seems, has no financial regulatory experience. How quickly will her (possible) confirmation hearing be held? Watch this site.

June 11, 2018

In DC at CFPB Mulvaney Disbands Consumer Advisory Board As OCC Cuts CRA, FOIA

By Matthew R. Lee, Patreon

NEW YORK, June 6 – The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Mick Mulvany has moved to disband the statutory Consumer Advisory Board, Mulvaney told the 23 board members at 11 am on June 6. Mulvaney had cancelled an in-person meeting with the Board, mandated by the Dodd Frank act, proposing instead another telephone conference call - on which he fired the board members. On June 4 Inner City Press covered a media call by Consumer Advisory Board members, after asking Citigroup some questions at the UN - just as it covered the shift before the 2016 election of some regulatory functions of the Federal Reserve, which continued to rubber stamp bank mergers, to the CFPB. Now the CFPB is stepping further back from regulation, to put it mildly.

June 4, 2018

Weakening of Volcker Rule Promoted By Fed's Powell and Quarles Without Wells Fargo Recusal

By Matthew R. Lee, Audio

NEW YORK, May 30 – The US Federal Reserve Board, with more than half of its seats vacant and one of its three Governors conflicted out on Wells Fargo now wants to weaken the so-called Volcker Rule, for the benefit of the largest banks. This is the same Federal Reserve which recently delayed for months in responding to Inner City Press' request under the Freedom of Information Act, and which has taken to rubber stamping mergers even by banks with interest rates described as usurious, like Ameris Bank. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said, "Firms that do more modest amounts of trading will face fewer requirements." Randal K. Quarles, the Governor ostensibly recused on Wells Fargo which has an interest in the Volcker Rule said "I view this proposal as an important milestone in comprehensive Volcker rule reform, but not the completion of our work." There is a commnt period, here. We'll have more on this. When the International Monetary Fund reviews developed countries' banking sectors, particularly in Europe, some banks' participation in predatory lending gets over looked. Consider Deutsche Bank, and the IMF's May 14 assessment of the Germany banking sector, which Inner City Press published below when it was  just out from under embargo. Now consider the US Federal Reserve's solicitude, expressed by new Governor Randal Quarles: "Willingness by the United States to reconsider its calibration may prompt other jurisdictions to do the same, which could better the prospects of successful resolution for both foreign G-SIBs operating in the United States, and for U.S. G-SIBs operating abroad... Any such balance is likely to be improvable with experience, reflection, and debate. We are interested in views from the firms and the public on how the regimes can be improved." This while draft legislation pends that would allow global banks to low-ball their US holdings, and US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting targets the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977.  We'll have more on this. From the IMF on May 14 "The German banking and life insurance sectors should accelerate their restructuring to bolster profitability and reduce risks. In the banking sector, the regulatory capital ratio has increased, but the cost-to-income ratio and leverage remain high. The high cost structure, alongside low net interest margins, provisions for compliance violations, and the need to adjust to the new regulatory environment, continue to weigh on profitability. Restructuring is ongoing in the banking sector, but the process must be accelerated through faster implementation of restructuring plans, continued development of fee-based income, and further consolidation. In the life insurance sector, low interest rates have dented solvency ratios, and further progress is needed to reduce reliance on guaranteed return products. In this context, supervisory attention to interest rate risk and progress in implementing restructuring plans both in banking and insurance should continue." What about abuse of consumers, participation in predatory lending schemes and other abuses? What about Greece? What about Deutsche bank as the riskiest bank?

May 28, 2018

We note that in Federal Reserve governor Brainard's speech on CRA there is no mention of enforcement of CRA, or of the word "merger" or "expansion" or "application" -- we'll have more on this. https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/speech/brainard20180518a.htm

May 21, 2018

Payday Lending Scrutiny Survives Capitol Hill Review Period, US Comptroller Otting Eyes CRA

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, May 16 – A regulation against predatory payday lending, which was threatened with Congressional repeal up to today, has survived the threat: the deadline came and went on May 16. The Congressional Review Act resolution (S.J. Res. 56) to repeal it garnered only four sponsors. But threats to the Community Reinvestment Act continue: US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, who generated fake comments supporting his OneWest Bank's merger with CIT Group, is now seeking to remove the "community" from the US Community Reinvestment Act, eliminating any focus on the areas from which banks draw their insured deposits. Otting told the ABA he wants to make it  “easy and simple for banks to understand” the CRA. His OCC spokesperson spuns that "the comptroller has mentioned in numerous public settings that we need to revisit how assessment areas are defined." The WSJ, for now, did not mention Otting's previous history of undermining the CRA. Otting has also been shown to have continued buy and owning bank and insurance company stocks even after he was nominated, confirmed and began at the OCC. The stocks included Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, KeyCorp and Prudential Financial. Now Otting has his eye on further weakening Community Reinvestment Act reviews of mergers. The OCC is still withholding documents requested by Inner City Press and CRC under FOIA including about how Otting's bank's lawyers responded to the fake comment issue. We'll have more on this.

May 14, 2018

A redlining case against Klein Bank in Minnesota was been dropped by DOJ in exchange for revision in the bank's CRA assessment area. The suit, filed by the DOJ in early 2017, alleged that from 2010 to at least 2015, KleinBank had structured its residential mortgage business – drawing a “horseshoe-shaped” assessment area around different census tracts– that allowed it to avoid serving neighborhoods with a predominantly minority population. Allegedly targeted for exclusion were all 37 majority-minority sections in Ramsey County and 39 of the 58 majority-minority areas in Hennepin County.
 
 KleinBank CEO Doug Hile spun that "we have decided this compromise allows us to channel our resources into serving the community, specifically where the needs are great and where our special approach to engagement and commitment will have a profound impact.”
 
Under the settlement stipulations, KleinBank – which runs 21 bank branches throughout Minnesota – must revise its main Community Reinvestment Act assessment area. The new area must include all of Hennepin County, and the company will open a new branch office within the county, as well as continue to expand community initiatives. We'll see.

May 7, 2018

US Comptroller Otting Moves To Strip Community from CRA, FOIA Docs Withheld

By Matthew R. Lee, Patreon

NEW YORK, May 1 – US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, who generated fake comments supporting his OneWest Bank's merger with CIT Group, is now seeking to remove the "community" from the US Community Reinvestment Act, eliminating any focus on the areas from which banks draw their insured deposits. Otting told the ABA he wants to make it  “easy and simple for banks to understand” the CRA. His OCC spokesperson spuns that "the comptroller has mentioned in numerous public settings that we need to revisit how assessment areas are defined." The WSJ, for now, did not mention Otting's previous history of undermining the CRA. Otting has also been shown to have continued buy and owning bank and insurance company stocks even after he was nominated, confirmed and began at the OCC. The stocks included Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, KeyCorp and Prudential Financial. Now Otting has his eye on further weakening Community Reinvestment Act reviews of mergers. The OCC is still withholding documents requested by Inner City Press and CRC under FOIA including about how Otting's bank's lawyers responded to the fake comment issue. We'll have more on this.

April 30, 2018

US Comptroller Otting Bought Bank Stocks While Regulating Banks, FOIA Docs Withheld

By Matthew R. Lee, Patreon

NEW YORK, April 26 – US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, who generated fake comments supporting his OneWest Bank's merger with CIT Group, has now been shown to have continued buy and owning bank and insurance company stocks even after he was nominated, confirmed and began at the OCC. The stocks included Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, KeyCorp and Prudential Financial. Now Otting has his eye on further weakening Community Reinvestment Act reviews of mergers. The OCC is still withholding documents requested by Inner City Press and CRC under FOIA including about how Otting's bank's lawyers responded to the fake comment issue. We'll have more on this.

April 23, 2018

Wells Fargo Fined $1B By Otting's OCC and Mulvaney's CFPB, End of An Era?

By Matthew R. Lee, Patreon

NEW YORK, April 20 – Even as Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief Mick Mulvaney promises to scrap payday lending and other protections, on April 20 his CFPB with a new logo along with Joseph Otting's OCC announced a $1 billion fine against Wells Fargo. As one Inner City Press agency source put it, imagine what the fine would be under anyone else. Others noted how unspecific the press release of the CFPB - apparently being renamed the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection - is, compared to those which came before. On April 9 the payday lenders' lobbying group Community Financial Services Association of America sued to overturn the rule, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division. This comes as the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's Joseph Otting has ended the ban on payday lender ACE Cash Express working with national banks...

April 16, 2018

US Payday Lending Protections Sued by Industry Group, Otting and ACE

By Matthew R. Lee, Patreon

BRONX, NEW YORK, April 9 – Even as Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief Mick Mulvaney promises to scrap payday lending protections, on April 9 the payday lenders' lobbying group Community Financial Services Association of America sued to overturn the rule, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division. This comes as the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's Joseph Otting has ended the ban on payday lender ACE Cash Express working with national banks

April 9, 2018