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.

March 30, 2020

As FDIC Tries To Weaken CRA Fair Finance Watch on Republic Bank and Axos Bank Demands Extension

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - CJR - PFT

UN GATE / SDNY COURT, March 22 – Amid the Coronavirus crisis, with the FDIC and OCC yet to confirm they will postpone any closing of the comment period on their joint attempt to weaken the Community Reinvestment Act, both try to rubber stamp mergers even while public hearings would be prohibited.

Fair Finance Watch, and Inner City Press with FOIA requests, have filed a timely comment with the FDIC against a proposal by predatory lenders Republic Bank and Trust and Axos Bank: "Dear Chairman McWilliams, Regional Director Conneely, Deputy Regional Director Sabanty:    On behalf of Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press and in my personal capacity, this is a timely comment opposing and demanding an extension of the comment period on the application by high-cost lender Republic Bank & Trust to merge with Axox Bank, including based on the Coronavirus crisis.  

Already, the IRS had extended the filing deadline for 2019 taxes to July 15, 2020 (as should this application).

These are high cost lenders, already underregulated and under commented on. To try to rubber stamp this transaction while the effected public is under shelter in place orders would be unconscionable.

   For the record, for now: "Non-bank payday lenders try to get in on the action by putting a bank’s name on the loan, allowing them the pre-emption protection. One company engaged in this is Elevate Financial. Its line-of-credit product, Elastic, uses Republic Bank, which is chartered in Kentucky, to make the loans. Elevate supplies the underwriting software and therefore controls who gets a loan. Republic Bank holds onto the loans, but then sells a 90 percent “participation interest” to an affiliate of Elevate. Functionally speaking, Elevate issues and effectively owns the loans, but it has a legal fig leaf that enables it to point to Republic Bank as the actual lender. This enables Elevate to sell Elastic, which its financial disclosures say carries an annual percentage rate of 109 percent, in states like Minnesota, Montana, and Oregon, which cap interest rates at 36 percent. It also allows Elevate to sell what is effectively a payday lending/installment loan product called Rise in states where payday lending has been banned, like Arizona."  

This is the application: 20200218 REPUBLIC BANK & TRUST COMPANY 601 WEST MARKET STREET, LOUISVILLE, KY    Merger (Regular)    02/18/2020    03/21/2020    Chicago 

 Additionally, this application is subjec to requests for public hearings, but public hearings right now are prohibited. It is clear you must extend the comment period - please confirm immediately, and how this applies to other pending application and those on which you have closed or purported to close the public comment period this month. Matthew R. Lee, Esq., Fair Finance Watch Watch this site.

March 23, 2020

Community Reinvestment Act Credit For Coronavirus Means Comment Period Must Be Extended

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon  Periscope
BBC - Decrypt - LightRead - Honduras - Source

BRONX / SDNY, March 20 --   With the Community Reinvestment Act under attack by US Comptroller of the Currency Josephy Otting, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press on March 11 submitted a third comment this time making an obvious request.

They ask that in light of Coronavirus / COVID-19 the comment period on the assault on CRA be extended for months. See also here.

  Now, with Otting still resisting postponing his dream of weakening the CRA, his OCC has joined not only his sometime partner in crime the FDIC but also the Fed in speaking on the Coronavirus COVID-19 crisis, offering banks CRA credit for any and everything they do in any way related to the virus. Fine - but doesn't that make it absolutely clear Otting has to indefinitely postpone closing the comment period on his destructive proposal? Watch this site.

 Here it was: March 11, 2020  Re: Docket ID OCC-2018-0008 - 3d opposition to OCC/FDIC plan to weaken CRA - demand that comment period be extended for months in light of Coronavirus COVID-19 & OCC inaction

To whom it may concern at the OCC and FDIC:    On behalf of Fair Finance Watch, and Inner City Press, and in my personal capacity, this is a third timely comment opposing the proposal by Comptroller Joseph Otting and the FDIC to weaken the CRA.    To be clear: the comment period must now be extended for months in light of Coronavirus / COVID-19. This is based on the Administration's own statements on the topic, and what we can only interpret at the OCC's furthering weakening by it, with no response to our timely comments on Northfield Bank - Victory State Bank, no documents response to our FOIA request about this CRA proposal and the Comptroller's schedule, and the OCC's failure to inquire into even branch closings int he CBNA - Steuben Trust proposal we comments on. This is not the time to be slipping through an undermining of CRA.  

 Note, simply as examples, that Federal courts have shut down (see, e.g., the Eastern District of Washington), whole law firms have, and the containment of New Rochelle, NY just above The Bronx. The comment period must be extended.

March 16, 2020

Community Reinvestment Act For Coronavirus Must Have Comment Period Extended Fair Finance Watch Says

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Decrypt - LightRead - Honduras - Source

BRONX / SDNY, March 11 --   With the Community Reinvestment Act under attack by US Comptroller of the Currency Josephy Otting, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press on March 11 submitted a third comment this time making an obvious request.

They ask that in light of Coronavirus / COVID-19 the comment period on the assault on CRA be extended for months. Confirmation of receipt by Regulations.gov of the comment and request has been received. Here it is: March 11, 2020  Re: Docket ID OCC-2018-0008 - 3d opposition to OCC/FDIC plan to weaken CRA - demand that comment period be extended for months in light of Coronavirus COVID-19 & OCC inaction

To whom it may concern at the OCC and FDIC:    On behalf of Fair Finance Watch, and Inner City Press, and in my personal capacity, this is a third timely comment opposing the proposal by Comptroller Joseph Otting and the FDIC to weaken the CRA.    To be clear: the comment period must now be extended for months in light of Coronavirus / COVID-19. This is based on the Administration's own statements on the topic, and what we can only interpret at the OCC's furthering weakening by it, with no response to our timely comments on Northfield Bank - Victory State Bank, no documents response to our FOIA request about this CRA proposal and the Comptroller's schedule, and the OCC's failure to inquire into even branch closings int he CBNA - Steuben Trust proposal we comments on. This is not the time to be slipping through an undermining of CRA.  

 Note, simply as examples, that Federal courts have shut down (see, e.g., the Eastern District of Washington), whole law firms have, and the containment of New Rochelle, NY just above The Bronx. The comment period must be extended. 

Enforcing the CRA including through commenting to the Federal Reserve and FDIC, and OCC under previous Comptrollers, the results have been new bank branches in the South Bronx, and lending and consumer protection commitments well beyond.   Now under Otting the OCC is ignoring, rebuffing and sometimes simply rejecting such public comments. This as Otting says he is personally unaware of discrimination. So, during and in connection with this comment period on his attempt to more systematically defang the CRA, Fair Finance Watch has commented on a proposed acquisition by a national bank which settled race discrimination charges, Evans Bank: "Evans had redlined Buffalo’s predominantly African-American East Side neighborhoods, intentionally excluding these neighborhoods from its lending area.  Evans Bank also allegedly developed mortgage products that it made unavailable to these neighborhoods, notwithstanding the creditworthiness of the applicants; and refused to solicit customers, market mortgages or provide banking facilities in those neighborhoods.  The lawsuit alleged that by redlining the East Side neighborhoods, which are home to more than 85,000 people, Evans excluded an area that is home to the vast majority of Buffalo’s African-American population from the marketing and sales of its mortgage products and services."   

 This is a national bank. Its Fairport Savings application should be denied. And for the record, the CFPB's elimination of the HMDA informaiton that has been available on the FFIEC's and even its own website for 2017 data is part of the destruction of CRA and HMDA of which the OCC is a part.   Also for the record, "Nasca says there may be consolidation of some back office staff." Public hearings should be held. But Otting routinely denies such requests.     Aain, since Otting became Comptroller, we have seen timely comments ignored, and been denied access to bank merger applications by a retaliatory imposition of FOIA fees. The Federal Reserve and other federal agencies, like the OCC pre-Otting, grant Inner City Press FOIA fee waivers. Under Otting, the OCC does not. On Chinatown FSB, the OCC refused to consider a timely comment. The OCC unilaterally determined not to accept public comments on a major bank's charter conversion application, which it rubber stamped. This has been rogue-like behavior.    As a proud member of NCRC we join in its comments.  The central point of CRA is ensuring that banks meet local needs. For agencies to ascertain that, they must listen carefully to the public.   But Otting has shown that he does not, or does so only selectively. The proposal must be rejected. We will have further comments. Matthew R Lee Fair Finance Watch (and Inner City Press) New York.

Your comment was submitted successfully! Comment Tracking Number: k7n-zxq6-onzv  Your comment has been sent for review. This process is dependent on agency public submission policies/procedures and processing times. Watch this site

March 9, 2020

As CFPB Evades Public Process With Advisory Opinions Its Whitewash of Mortgage Continues With Attack on CRA

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
Honduras - The Source - The Root - etc

Bronx / SDNY, March 6 –  With US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting formally moving along with the FDIC to undermine the  Community Reinvestment Act, on January 11 Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch filed a CRA protest with the OCC to Community Bank NA's application to acquire Steuben Trust Company. The Otting's OCC is now trying to intimidate groups with phone "interviews" of which the OCC won't show the target their write-ups.

  On March 6 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced "plans to create an advisory opinion program which, if enacted, would circumvent the public notice-and-comment process, a pillar of our government and democracy. The intent of the advisory opinion program, according to the CFPB, would be to provide clear guidance to assist companies in better understanding their legal and regulatory obligations through advisory opinions. But in actuality, the CFPB is proposing to sidestep the usual public notice-and-comment rulemaking process under the Administrative Procedures Act, and the congressionally-mandated process for providing interpretations of the Truth and Lending Act.       Worse, once these interpretations are issued, they could be entitled to a level of deference almost equal to that of regular rulemaking, outside of the context of the original requester. Agencies that issue advisory opinions usually end up with a welter of contradictory, mostly pro-industry interpretations that have the long-term impact of undermining the credibility of the agency and the deference accorded to it." This is a pattern.

The CFPB under Kathy Kraninger issued 2018 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data - with an interface without any racial or ethnic information unlike 2017 and every previous year, undermining the entire purpose of the HMDA law. See this page and this December 16 filing with FDIC, cc-ed to the CFPB:

December 16, 2019  Via e-mail

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Attn: John Vogel, Regional Director and Doreen R. Eberley, Jim Watkins, Robert P. Cordeiro, Scott D. Strockoz 350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1200 New York, NY 10118-0110  

Re: Timely First Comment on Applications by Flushing Bank to Acquire Empire National Bank 

Dear Regional Director Vogel and others at the FDIC:  

This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the FDIC's public comment period on the Applications by Flushing Bank to Acquire Empire National Bank.   

Flushing Bank in 2018, for race specified loans, made six times more loans to whites than to African Americans, entirely out of keeping with the demographics of its market.   

Compare the demographics of its lending to the geography: 68 loans to Queens, 35 in Manhattan, 27 in The Bronx, 35 in Manhattan, five on Staten Island and 24 in Westchester County.    

Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch would like to and has a right to submit more detailed HMDA data. But for the record, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for 2018 data has unilaterally removed the ability of the public to view HMDA data by race on its website, which the FFIEC / Federal Reserve allowed in previous years and the CFBP did even in 2017.

Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch contends that the CFPB's move is both anti-public and illegal.    

March 2, 2020

As CFPB Whitewashed Mortgage Data It Proposes Business Lending Timeline in ND CAL

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
Honduras - The Source - The Root - etc

Bronx / SDNY, Feb 27 –  With US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting moving along with the FDIC to undermine the  Community Reinvestment Act, in February 2020 Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch filed a CRA protest with the OCC to the application by Community Bank NA to buy Steuben Trust, here.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Kathy Kraninger issued 2018 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data - with an interface without any racial or ethnic information unlike 2017 and every previous year, undermining the entire purpose of the HMDA law. See this page and the December 16 filing with FDIC, cc-ed to the CFPB, below.
 
  Now while still withholding race and ethnic information from HMDA data available for view on its website, the CFPB has been forced into a settlement about business lending data: "a settlement agreement filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will agree to concrete court-ordered deadlines for implementing Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires the agency to collect and disclose data on discriminatory lending to America’s small businesses. After unlawfully delaying this requirement for years, the CFPB must also submit status reports updating the public on its progress. Today marks a milestone victory for addressing the credit barriers small business owners face across the country — particularly women and entrepreneurs of color.  The settlement agreement was reached in response to a lawsuit... According to the agreement, the CFPB will:  By September 2020, outline its proposals for collecting the required data and publicly release those proposals for consideration of their effect on small businesses; By October 2020, establish a Small Business Advocacy Review panel to provide input on its proposal. CFPB will take panelist suggestions from the small business plaintiff groups; Negotiate deadlines with the plaintiffs for each stage of the rulemaking process to facilitate the data collection, including the deadline to issue the final data collection rule, and accept Court-ordered deadlines if the parties cannot agree; and Submit status reports every 90 days detailing the CFPB’s progress toward implementing this data collection rule. The joint settlement agreement was submitted to the Court on Wednesday, February 26, 2020. The agreement is subject to final Court approval." Inner City Press will follow this. CRC and many other NCRC members remain on the case.

February 24, 2020

Community Reinvestment Act Attack by Otting Continues But With Comments to April 9

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - CJR - PFT

SOUTH BRONX, Feb 19 –   The current US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting cashed out of his position with OneWest Bank in California by overseeing fake comments in favor its acquisition by the CIT Group.

   Then, emboldened, he devoted the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to weakening or destroying the Community Reinvestment Act which provides for the public process that he subverted with fake comments.

   Inner City Press, which opposed the merger and then pursued a Freedom of Information Act request for all documents about Otting's fraud, soon found its and Fair Finance Watch's comments to the OCC being rejected, or ignored, or returned. 

  While Inner City Press' FOIA requests get fee waivers from the Federal Reserve and a range of agencies in the US and beyond, Otting's OCC suddenly started denying them, hindering access to the merger applications on which CRA is enforced.   

Otting is trying to push through this CRA-killing proposal on a short comment period, cognizant of the other CRA, the Congressioal Review Act. But it is obvious that even banks want more time.

On January 26, in advance of Otting's belated January 29 House of Representatives appearance, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch submitted a formal comment, below. It included a demand that Otting recuse himself (not yet acted on) and a request for an extension of the comment period.

  Now on February 19 from FDIC, this: "FDIC and OCC Announce 30-day Extension of Comment Period for Proposed Changes to Community Reinvestment Act Regulations WASHINGTON – The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) today extended the public comment period for proposed changes to the regulations implementing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) until April 8, 2020.  On December 12, 2019, the FDIC and OCC announced a proposal to modernize the regulations under the CRA and provided for a 60-day comment period following formal publication on January 9, 2020 in the Federal Register (85 FR 1204). The FDIC and OCC have now determined that a 30-day extension of the comment period is appropriate."

  So, April 9, more to follow. But Otting must still be recused.

February 17, 2020

Community Reinvestment Act Attack by Otting Questioned In FOIA For Bank Meetings By Inner City Press

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - CJR - PFT

SOUTH BRONX, Feb 12 – The current US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting cashed out of his position with OneWest Bank in California by overseeing fake comments in favor its acquisition by the CIT Group.

   Then, emboldened, he devoted the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to weakening or destroying the Community Reinvestment Act which provides for the public process that he subverted with fake comments.

  On February 12, Inner City Press submitted a FOIA request: "Dear OCC FOIA Officer: On behalf of Inner City Press, Fair Finance Watch and in my personal capacity this request for records pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, and OCC regulations. On an expedited basis, this is a request for all record regarding the OCC's January 30, 2020 Meeting with Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) bankers [including

Yvonne Blumenthal, US Bank (Chair)  Lloyd Brown, Citigroup (Vice Chair)  Kelli Arnold, KeyBank  Reza Aghamirzadeh, Citizens Financial Group  Nathalia Artus, Atlantic Union Bank  Jan Bergeson, Ally  Tonya Billings, Independent Bank  Norm Bliss, Bank of the West  Len Bolton, Rockland Trust  Melissa Borino, BMO Harris  Sunada Brookins, Hancock Whitney Bank  Doug Craycraft, Chase  Jennifer Creger, Crescent Bank & Trust  Christina Cudney, United Bank  Jon Davies, Regions  Brad Dossinger, M&T Bank  Scott Fujii, Bank of Hawaii  Alberto Garofalo, Bank of America  Staci Glenn Short, Huntington  Emmanuel Glover, TCF  Seth Goodall, Santander  Joseph Hernandez, TIAA  Amy Howcroft, PNC  Angela Hudson, Bank OZK  Sharon Jeffries-Jones, Truist  Matthew Joy, Mechanics Bank  Lori-Anne Lawton, Webster Bank  Christine Lloyd, HSBC  Robert Manuel, Wells Fargo Bank  Jim Matthews, Capital One  Roddell McCollough, First Financial Bank  Chris McGillis, BBVA Compass  Beverly Meek, Flagstar  Kapil Narang, Ameriprise  Cathy Niederberger, PNC Bank  Donna Normandin, Frost Bank                                                                           , Rey Ocanas, Byron Reed, CIT  Karl Renney, Eastern Bank  Julius Robinson, MUFG Union Bank, N.A.  Kathleen Robinson, TD Bank  Bobbie Salgado, MUFG Union Bank, N.A  Doug Schaeffer, WoodForest  Camino Smith, Banner Bank  Natalie Smith Parker, Synovus  Christopher Stelma, First Commonwealth  Beth Trotter, IBERIABANK  Alan Urie, Synchrony  Paul Vicente, Fifth Third  Amy Walls, Discover

All that has been disclosed is:  "On January 29, 2020, representatives from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) participated in a conference call with representatives of CBA member banks regarding the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR)1 and the associated request for information (RFI).2  The discussion focused on several aspects of the CRA NPR and RFI, including (1) the information and data requested in the RFI, (2) the implementation timeframe, (3) the retail lending distribution tests, (4) data aggregation, (5) where banks will receive credit for qualifying activities, (6) the empirical benchmarks and thresholds, (7) credit for retail loan originations, and (8) data collection."    That is laughable and abusive as it does not contain any information about what the banks, or the OCC, said, in the middle of an already flawed rulemaking process. The records should be provided on an expedited basis and under a FOIA fee waiver Inner City Press has become aware Otting's OCC grants to others, non-media, while denying to ICP in retaliation.    ICP also again requests copies of records sufficient to show all of Comptroller Otting's scheduled meetings, appointments, and scheduled events from the date he became Comptroller to the date of your response including but not limited to Outlook calendar entries and daily briefing books for Comptroller Ottings on those dates.

February 10, 2020

  As Otting's OCC continues its assault on the CRA, even as Otting was outed in another House hearing last week for his fake comments on OneWest - CIT, the OCC stands poised to reward with an approval to buy Fairport Savings none other than Evans Bank, which settled redlining charges. Otting, of course, has never himself seen any discrimination, only heard about it from his family...

February 3, 2020

As House Sees OCC Attacks on CRA Otting Contempt For Protest to Steuben Trust Bid By Community Bank NA

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
The Source - The Root - etc

Bronx / DC, Feb 1 –  With US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting on December 12 formally moving along with the FDIC to undermine the  Community Reinvestment Act, now with comment period to March 9, two hearings have been held in the House Financial Services Committee. And see our comment here.

On January 11 Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch filed a CRA protest with the OCC to Community Bank NA's application to acquire Steuben Trust Company. It was filed electronically, but there was no response at all from the OCC until a snail-mailed January 27 letter stating "The OCC has decided not to extend the comment period and will not hold a public hearing/meeting." This is Otting's OCC.

January 27, 2020

To Kill Community Reinvestment Act Otting Vows No Delay As His Staff Intimidate Groups

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
Honduras - The Source - The Root - etc

Bronx / SDNY, Jan 23 –  With US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, himself shown to have use fake comments to get paid for selling OneWest to CIT, trying to manipulate the comment period on his proposal to further weaken the  Community Reinvestment Act, on January 22 he bragged that nothing will stop him.

  And in fact, he has deployed OCC staffers once viewed as benign to try to intimidate community groups which have opposed his plan. Inner City Press, denied documents by Otting under FOIA, has been contacted by dozens of groups. They say they have received "weird" calls from OCC staff, who grill them about their views and say they will not provide the notes of the conversations to them.

  The OCC staffers range from NIMBY Barry Wides to Tim Herwig, Denise Kirk-Murray and Norma Polanco-Boyd, among others. Even moderate groups are expressing disgust. But Otting is racing to beat the CRA - not only the Community Reinvestment Act, which he has hated since his OneWest days, but the Congressional Review Act. This is shameful. Inner City Press will have more on this.

  On December 16 Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch filed a CRA protest with the FDIC to Flushing Bank's application to acquire Empire National Bank, see below. Since then it has commented to the OCC on Community Bank NA - so far without any action at all. The OCC under Otting is gutting the CRA.

January 20, 2020

On OCC Attack on CRA Even Bankers Say More Analysis Needed As Gramm Chimes In

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
The Source - The Root - etc

Bronx / DC, Jan 15 –  With US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting on December 12 formally moving along with the FDIC to undermine the  Community Reinvestment Act, now with comment period to March 9, on January 14 a hearing was held in the House Financial Services Committee - about but without Otting, a regulator not only rogue but also reclusive. He will appear, it is said, later in the month.

 And in advance of that, even the bankers' trade group Consumer Bankers Association has written to the House that "More analysis must be undertaken by  stakeholders to better understand the impact the new metrics that will be used to measure  CRA activity for individual institutions and the communities they can serve.     It is crucial that the OCC and FDIC engage with  stakeholders to carefully analyze the real impact of the proposed changes on CRA deserts and  hot spots, to make sure that sufficient incentives are provided to induce banks to serve the  hard-to-reach areas that are most in need of investment."

  Perhaps that's why OCC has taken to contacting some groups outside of the too-short formal commenting process. Will such contacts - some say intimidation - be subject to FOIA, unless Otting undermines it by imposing outrageous fees?

  Former Senator Phil Gramm has chimed in in the Wall Street Journal, linking Otting's proposal to a movement to free banks to lend to payday lenders. Indeed.

  At the January 14 hearing, Rep. Pressley of Massachusetts, for example, pointed out that under Otting's and the FDIC's proposal, a bank could get CRA credit for funding a stadium and jumbotron in low or moderate income area, and other forms of gentrification.

  Too little, however, was said of Otting's attacks since he took office on the enforcement mechanism of CRA: the public comment process on proposed mergers. Otting has denied access to merger application by imposing unheard of fees, and has refused to consider timely comments. We'll have more on this - including in connection with merger comments just filed, see, below.

  The January 14 session was entitled "The Community Reinvestment Act: Reviewing Who Wins and Who Loses with Comptroller Otting's Proposal;" it was held in the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions. See Periscope video here (including Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch live comments.)

January 13, 2020

Now FDIC and Otting Attack on CRA March 9 Deadline As Wells Fargo Tries To Censor

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
Honduras - The Source - The Root - etc

Bronx / SDNY, Jan 9 –  With US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting on January 9 formally publishing notice in the Federal Register along with the FDIC to undermine the  Community Reinvestment Act, the too-short comment period is set: to March 9. Notice here.

  Meanwhile Wells Fargo, one of the less than a handful of banks which dominate the industry in the United States, is asking a federal court to shut down a website. 

  Wells Fargo's motion, filed on January 8, complains that "Defendants have re-posted the very website that defames and threatens Wells Fargo and its employees, agents, attorneys, and vendors involved in this litigation. See Exhibit A, http://www.wwshrimp.com, Website Screen Shots captured 1/7/20. Defendants should now be immediately ordered to take down the Website and should be permanently enjoined from re-posting any of its content again in any public forum."  More on Patreon here.  

    While describing a bank or its lawyers as prostitutes is not nice - and may as to the bank reverse the analysis - Inner City Press finds it highly problematic that a mega-bank, particularly one so recently bailed out by the public, should be trying to shut down a website.

January 6, 2020

In SDNY Schwab - TD Bank Proposed Tie Up Faces Antitrust Suit by Asian American Firm

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

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Dec 31 – A major proposed merger in the brokerage and banking fields was announced on the morning of November 25: Charles Schwab proposes to buy TD Ameritrade in an approximately $26-billion US all-stock deal. The deal would see Toronto-Dominion Bank, which holds approximately 43 per cent of TD Ameritrade's stock, own a roughly 13 per cent stake in the combined company.

   Inner City Press has reported that fraud scheme OneCoin publicly represented that it had a banking relationship with TD Bank. When action was belatedly (and begrudgingly) taken, questions arise and will be raised as to what TD Bank knew, and when.

  And now in late December Schwab has been sued about the deal, on antitrust grounds under Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act and Section 7 of the Clayton Act.

  Reports on the suit to date have omitted a key element: the plaintiff, BlackCrown Inc., describes itself in the amendment complaint filed on December 30 as "an independent minority (Asian American) owned and operated SEC registered independent wealth management firm (CRD #298140 / SEC # 801-113929)."

 Antitrust meets fair lending, or fair dealing. The amendment should have been seen to be coming, as the complaint said the proposed merger would “disenfranchise a great segment of the industry by effectively establishing a caste system.”    Ordering TD Ameritrade’s custodial business sold to BlackCrown would “dissipate the anti-competitive effects” of the planned merger, the suit says. Alongside following the states' suit against the proposed T-Mobile / Sprint merger, Inner City Press will be following this (even) longer-shot private antitrust case - watch this site.

   As Inner City Press covered the OneCoin trial last month, a number of names of indicted co-conspirators emerged on which we are now following up.

  One of them was Amer Abdulaziz Salman. From his Phoenix Thoroughbred's, Inner City Press is informed that Dermot Farrington has left.

    As Inner City Press exclusively reported on November 6, surprise cooperating witness Konstantin Ignatov brought up Amer Abdulaziz during his testimony, live-tweeted @InnerCityPress, and see here.

December 30, 2019

Community Reinvestment Act Assault By OCC Joined In By Federal Reserve Hiding Mergers CFPB Hiding Data

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK -