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.

June 29, 2020

Once Otting Out of OCC To Black Knight His Anti CRA Rule Challenged NDCA Court

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

FEDERAL COURTHOUSE, June 25 – On May 29 Joseph Otting had his last day as US Comptroller of the Currency, a position he has misused to attack the Community Reinvestment Act he came to despise as head of OneWest Bank.

   A week later Ottting cashed out, taking a paying position on the board of directors of Black Knight, described as a fintech.
 
  But if bank regulators have a cooling off period, how can the just former Comptroller joint a fintech, an industry he and his successor worked and work to get into the national banking world?

 Now Otting's handiwork, undermining the CRA, is itself under attack, in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by NCRC and CRC; the complaint cites "During the Senate hearings on the CRA, Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin stated: By redlining let me make it clear what I am talking about. I am talking about the fact that banks and savings and loans will take their deposits from a community and instead of reinvesting them in that community, they will actually or figuratively draw a red line on a map around the areas of their city, sometimes in the inner city, sometimes in the older neighborhoods, sometimes ethnic and sometimes black, but often encompassing a great area of their neighborhood."

  As to Acting Comptroller Brian Brooks, Bloomberg reported that "[a]s Coinbase’s chief legal officer, Brooks was paid $1.4 million in salary -- separate from the stock options -- in the year and a half he spent with company, which had weighed seeking a charter through the OCC before making other moves to access the banking system... He still has stock and bond holdings between $1 million and $2.2 million. Because he’s acting comptroller -- not yet nominated by President Donald Trump to seek Senate confirmation -- he’s not required to take the ethics pledge that would limit his ability to work in lobbying after he leaves the job, according to an OCC spokesman. However, Brooks has submitted a letter through the agency’s ethics office outlining companies he’ll steer clear of because of potential conflicts of interest, including Amazon.com Inc., Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit, Coinbase and a number of other tech firms he’s worked with....  Otting, who left the job last month, wasn’t out of work long. He was tapped this week to join the board of Black Knight Inc., which provides software for the mortgage industry." Bloomberg did not delve into that conflict of interest. And what are the "other tech firms" as to which Brooks is acknowledging a conflict?

   The OCC wrote to Inner City Press, faux apologizing for withholding information it has requested about Otting until after he had left the agency. Inner City Press immediately wrote back requesting a copy of Brooks' ethics letter and list of companies as to which even he acknowledges a conflict of interest. So far, nothing. But we note, for example, that he was on the board of Avant. What else?

   Amid all this, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press / Community on the Move have launched a new project. And so far, Brooks' national banks have been among the worst. Watch this site.

June 22, 2020

From Coinbase Brooks Into OCC With List of Conflicts Withheld So Now FOIA Request

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

UN GATE / SDNY COURT, June 18 – May 29 was the last day for Joseph Otting as US Comptroller of the Currency, a position he has misused to attack the Community Reinvestment Act he came to despise as head of OneWest Bank.

   A week later Ottting cashed out, taking a paying position on the board of directors of Black Knight, described as a fintech.
 
  But if bank regulators have a cooling off period, how can the just former Comptroller joint a fintech, an industry he and his successor worked and work to get into the national banking world?

  As to Acting Comptroller Brian Brooks, Bloomberg reported that "[a]s Coinbase’s chief legal officer, Brooks was paid $1.4 million in salary -- separate from the stock options -- in the year and a half he spent with company, which had weighed seeking a charter through the OCC before making other moves to access the banking system... He still has stock and bond holdings between $1 million and $2.2 million. Because he’s acting comptroller -- not yet nominated by President Donald Trump to seek Senate confirmation -- he’s not required to take the ethics pledge that would limit his ability to work in lobbying after he leaves the job, according to an OCC spokesman. However, Brooks has submitted a letter through the agency’s ethics office outlining companies he’ll steer clear of because of potential conflicts of interest, including Amazon.com Inc., Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit, Coinbase and a number of other tech firms he’s worked with....  Otting, who left the job last month, wasn’t out of work long. He was tapped this week to join the board of Black Knight Inc., which provides software for the mortgage industry." Bloomberg did not delve into that conflict of interest. And what are the "other tech firms" as to which Brooks is acknowledging a conflict?

   The OCC wrote to Inner City Press, faux apologizing for withholding information it has requested about Otting until after he had left the agency. Inner City Press immediately wrote back requesting a copy of Brooks' ethics letter and list of companies as to which even he acknowledges a conflict of interest.

  Today on June 18, that simple request was denied and so a FOIA request filed: "This is a request under FOIA on behalf of Inner City Press and in my personal capacity for all records concerning conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflict of interest by Acting Comptroller Brian Brooks, including but not limited to the Ethics letter Inner City Press requested from the OCC, below, and Coinbase, Avant, OneWest and any other firm.  Inner City Press in responding to a request by OCC to "close out" a FOIA request still not completed asked "I do have an OCC public information / transparency question - for the Acting Comptroller's ethics filing. To identify it: "Brooks has submitted a letter through the agency's ethics office outlining companies he'll steer clear of because of potential conflicts of interest, including Amazon.com Inc., Bank of America Corp.'s Merrill Lynch unit, Coinbase and a number of other tech firms he's worked with." What are those companies? Thanks, -Matthew Lee, Inner City Press"  Days later and minutes ago Inner City Press received this: Good Morning Mr. Lee....  I don't know the answer to the question you asked.  You should file a FOIA request for the records you seek regarding the Acting Comptroller. " This is that request, on which expedited treatment should be granted - such disclosures are among the very purposes of FOIA."  Watch this site.

As CFPB Shirks 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

South Bronx, June 18 – With the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency now under Brian Brooks formally undermining the  Community Reinvestment Act, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch filed a number of CRA protests, and requests with bank- and non-bank lenders for their PPP information.

  On June 18 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced "a pilot advisory opinion program designed to provide additional protections for financial institutions at the expense of consumers. Under the CFPB pilot, itself issued without notice and comment, financial institutions are invited to submit requests for regulatory clarifications in areas of “substantive importance.” The advisory opinions will then be issued by the CFPB, without notice-and-public comment, on the basis of confidential information submitted by the financial institution. Only entities subject to the CFPB’s jurisdiction may request these advisory opinions, and the advisory opinions will provide safe harbor protections for financial institutions under all major consumer protection laws. One of the priorities of the pilot program is to identify outdated, unnecessary or unduly burdensome regulations in order to reduce regulatory burdens on companies." 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.

June 15, 2020

Through Revolving Door Brooks Into OCC With List of Conflicts As Otting Out to Black Knight

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

UN GATE / SDNY COURT, June 11 – Only a week ago, May 29 was the last day for Joseph Otting as US Comptroller of the Currency, a position he has misused to attack the Community Reinvestment Act he came to despise as head of OneWest Bank.

  Now a week later Ottting has cashed out, taking a paying position on the board of directors of Black Knight, described as a fintech.
 
  But if bank regulators have a cooling off period, how can the just former Comptroller joint a fintech, an industry he and his successor worked and work to get into the national banking world?

  As to now Acting Comptroller Brian Brooks, Bloomberg reports that "[a]s Coinbase’s chief legal officer, Brooks was paid $1.4 million in salary -- separate from the stock options -- in the year and a half he spent with company, which had weighed seeking a charter through the OCC before making other moves to access the banking system. He also received $1.5 million in the past two years from Fannie Mae, where he was a board member after having been the company’s top lawyer.  Brooks traded those lucrative posts to earn less than $300,000 a year running the OCC. But he still has stock and bond holdings between $1 million and $2.2 million. Also, OCC chiefs are among high-ranking government officials who often move on to high-paying positions after their time in the government.  Because he’s acting comptroller -- not yet nominated by President Donald Trump to seek Senate confirmation -- he’s not required to take the ethics pledge that would limit his ability to work in lobbying after he leaves the job, according to an OCC spokesman. However, Brooks has submitted a letter through the agency’s ethics office outlining companies he’ll steer clear of because of potential conflicts of interest, including Amazon.com Inc., Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit, Coinbase and a number of other tech firms he’s worked with....  Otting, who left the job last month, wasn’t out of work long. He was tapped this week to join the board of Black Knight Inc., which provides software for the mortgage industry." Bloomberg did not delve into that conflict of interest. And what are the "other tech firms" as to which Brooks is ackowledging a conflict? Watch this site.

   It has not only been a policy dispute. Under Otting, the OCC immediately started denying Freedom of Information Act fee waivers, even for copies of pending merger applications subject to public comment. He debased certain longtime OCC staff, or perhaps they had alwasy been ready to take this turn. Time will tell.


Amid PPP Secrecy By Mnuchin Inner City Press Requests Basic Data Sample PNC Answer Here

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

SDNY COURT / SOUTH BRONX, June 13 –     Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, fair lending and the Community Reinvestment Act are taking a back seat, or worse. Some banks to which CRA applies are excluding smaller businesses and those in communities of color. And some banks bragging about the PPP loans won't provide any information - we are Pressing.

   Inner City Press / Community on the Move has begun contacting both banks and non-banks for their Paycheck Protection Program data. Without yet getting into the full results, we want to make a contrast not only to the contempt for CRA and public disclosure shown by Joseph Otting, now with Black Knight but also his OneWest crony and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin calling PPP information "proprietary."

 The contrast is to the answers by a sample bank, PNC, to questions Inner City Press / Community on the Move put to it and others:

"Hello again, Matthew. I am able to answer most but not all of your questions. As you know, the Paycheck Protection Program is still active but I can provide the most recent information on hand: 

1. How many loans have you made pursuant to the programs? We have registered more than 74,000 applications from small business customers in 49 states and the District of Columbia. 

2. What is the total dollar amount of loans made pursuant to the program ? $14.1 billion 

3. What is the average loan size? The average loan amount for all of our SBA registered loans is less than $190,000, demonstrating that our efforts reached many of the smallest businesses in need. 

4. What is the distribution by loan size (e.g. LTE $99,999, $100,000-$999,999, $1mm-$10mm) of the loans made pursuant to the program?  Approximately 80 percent of the total applications that we have been able to successfully register with the SBA are for amounts of $150,000 or less; and an additional 10 percent are for amounts of $350,000 or less (but more than $150,000). Although the statutory maximum PPP loan size per business is $10 million, only 0.4 percent of our total SBA-registered applications are for amounts above $5 million. 

5. What is the distribution of the average annual revenues of borrowers under your program (e.g., LTE $99,999, $100,000-$999,999, $1mm-$5mm)? This information was not required to be provided on the SBA PPP application. 

6. How many loans have you made to qualifying tax-exempt non-profits?  What is the total dollar amount of those loans? We also took special care to ensure that applications from non-profit organizations were not left behind. We have successfully registered more than 4,600 PPP applications totaling $1.24 billion from non-profit organizations throughout our footprint.

 7. How many loans have you made to hotels and restaurants (NAICS code beginning with 72)?  What is the total dollar amount of those loans? This information is not available. 

8. What is the distribution of loans by number of employees of the borrower (e.g., 1-10, 11-50, 51-100, 101-250, 251-5000?  Eighty two percent of our SBA-registered loans are for businesses with twenty or fewer employees, and an additional ten percent are for businesses with 21 to 50 employees. Only six percent of our SBA-registered loans are for businesses with between 51 and 250 employees, and only one percent for businesses with more than 250 employees. Clearly, our efforts assisted some of the smallest businesses across our communities. 

9. What percentage of your PPP loans are to borrowers with a previous borrowing relationship with your institution? We require that the borrower have a business relationship with us, which could mean a loan or deposit relationship. The vast majority (85 percent) of the PPP applications we have processed and registered with the SBA are from our Business Banking clients, which is our business segment that services business clients (including non-profits, sole proprietors and independent contractors) with less than $5 million in annual revenues. Only approximately 15 percent of the PPP loans that we submitted and that have been registered by the SBA are from eligible businesses within our Corporate & Institutional Bank, which services businesses with $5 million or more in annual revenues, or other business segments... On our PPP applications from small businesses operating in low- or moderate-income (LMI) geographies, as you know these areas are frequently the hardest hit in periods of economic stress. I am pleased to report that we have assisted more than 15,400 small business located in LMI census tracts receive SBA registration for their loans aggregating to approximately $3.36 billion. To further support small businesses that may lack access to traditional financial institutions, PNC has committed nearly $50 million to eight community development financial institutions (CDFIs) since March 2020 to support their own origination of PPP loans in potentially underserved geographies and sectors."

  Contrast this to the "proprietary information" dodge - and note for example that the highest overdraft fee bank in America, Ameris Bank has for now responded to Inner City Press' questions by stating that: "Information about our Paycheck Protection Program participation can be found in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Sincerely,  William D. McKendry EVP and Chief Risk Officer Ameris Bank. " UNacceptable.

  We'll have more on this and others, including fintechs. Watch this site.

June 8, 2020

Police Brutality Bonds Raise Questions About Investments by Federal Reserve and UN

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Soundcloud
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, June 6 – Amid the protests of police brutality triggered by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, U.S. cities' use of municipal bonds reduce the cost of their abuse of residents has come into focus.

   Holders of issuances such as Chicago, IL 7.045% 2029 bonds have been petitioned to acknowledge their role in enabling and reducing the costs of brutality.   A former attorney for the City of Chicago admitted, "When you had to budget more for police tort liability you had less to do lead poisoning screening for the poor children of Chicago.  We had a terrible lead poisoning problem and there was a direct relationship between the two.  Those kids were paying those tort judgments, not the police officers."

 Chicago’s lawsuit payouts required the city to sell $1 billion in bonds in 2011 and to issue $100 million in bonds in 2014.111  Yet the spokesman for the Chicago  Police Department made clear that “the police department isn’t forced to cut back on things like OT [overtime] or equipment purchases due to litigation costs Email from Roderick Drew, Freedom of Info. Officer, City of Chi. Law Dep’t, to author (Oct. 9, 2013), on file with Joanna C. Schwartz of UCLA School of Law. See, 63 UCLA L. Rev. 1144.  

But what about the Federal Reserve, which is taking credit for its purchase of municipal bonds as for its involvement in the increasingly disparate Paycheck Protection Program? Any screening on issues of police brutality and others by the Fed is not apparent. And what about the United Nations and its UN Pension Fund? Inner City Press will have more on this.

June 1, 2020

On Day Otting Out of OCC Legacy of Contempt For CRA Public Process and FOIA Brooks Next

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

UN GATE / SDNY COURT, May 29 – Today is the last day for Joseph Otting as US Comptroller of the Currency, a position he has misused to attack the Community Reinvestment Act he came to despise as head of OneWest Bank.

  We have only two words: Good riddance.

   It has not only been a policy dispute. Under Otting, the OCC immediately started denying Freedom of Information Act fee waivers, even for copies of pending merger applications subject to public comment. He debased certain longtime OCC staff, or perhaps they had alwasy been ready to take this turn. Time will tell.

Otting started refusing to consider timely comments on mergers, such as the take-over of Chinatown FSB by a national bank. Such contempt for the public and the public process is Otting's legacy.

  What will change under Otting's successor Brian P. Brooks? Brooks was vice chair of OneWest, before going to FannieMae then CoinBase, which he left only in March. Inner City Press has heard a number of things about Brooks, but as always goes into it with an open mind. Watch this site

May 25, 2020

Amid PPP Abuse Lenders Like Berkshire Bank Refuse As Inner City Press Requests Basic Data

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

SDNY COURT / SOUTH BRONX, May 24 –     Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, fair lending and the Community Reinvestment Act are taking a back seat, or worse. Some banks to which CRA applies are excluding smaller businesses and those in communities of color. And some banks bragging about the PPP loans won't provide any information - we are Pressing.

   Inner City Press / Community on the Move has begun contacting both banks and non-banks for their Paycheck Protection Program data. Without yet getting into the result, note that ostensibly progressive or "exciting" Berkshire Bank has for now responded to Inner City Press' questions by stating that: "Good morning Matthew,     Our CRA Officer will be reaching out to you to assist. Terry." Then, after no answer, and Inner City Press re-iterated its questions, this:  "They are working on getting the answers to all of your questions. You should hear from them soon. Terry."

  But they were not getting answers to any of Inner City Press' questions. Next, this came: "Hi Matthew,     Thank you for reaching out to Berkshire Bank in regards to receiving information about our CRA Public File and our PPP loans. We are currently unable to answer the questions you sent over because we do not have that data available for release at this time...  Aaliyah Outlaw  (She, Her, Hers) Corporate Communications Coordinator." UNacceptable.

  We'll have more on this.

While U.S. Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting is pushing forward with his proposal to weaken the CRA, his new chief national bank examiner Blake Paulson said bank examinations have gone 95% off-site.

  The Federal Reserve says it is suspending "non-critical" examinations, even at the largest institutions.

Meanwhile the Fed is pushing forward to approve bank merger applications, like Banco Bradesco - BAC which Fair Finance Watch has been opposing, as it has commented to the OCC against the acquisition of State Farm's health savings account business by Webster Bank, based in part of Webster's problematic Paycheck Protection Program performance.

   Fintechs and other non-bank financial firms are now at the PPP trough and are getting sued. For example, there is the lawsuit filed as a class action against Fountainhead Commercial Capital LLC on May 6, noting the finance firm advertised that it would process loan requests on a first-come, first-served basis and then stealthly shuffled its line of PPP applicants so that it would lock down the largest lending fees first.

     Meanwhile Paulson of the OCC, which wants to admit fintechs into banking without regulation, says no one is in PPP for the money. This while in response to Inner City Press' FOIA request for Otting's schedule the OCC redacted the names of banks that he met without, and obscured others. (A FOIA appeal has been filed.)

   Amid all this, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press / Community on the Move are launching a new project. Watch this site.

May 18,2020


As US Bank Regulators Suspend Non Critical Exams Or Go 95% Off-Site New Project on Abuses

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

UN GATE / SDNY COURT, May 11 –     Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, fair lending and Community Reinvestment Act are taking a back seat, or worse.

While U.S. Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting is pushing forward with his proposal to weaken the CRA, his new chief national bank examiner Blake Paulson said bank examinations have gone 95% off-site.

  The Federal Reserve says it is suspending "non-critical" examinations, even at the largest institutions.

Meanwhile the Fed is pushing forward to approve bank merger applications, like Banco Bradesco - BAC which Fair Finance Watch has been opposing, as it has commented to the OCC against the acquisition of State Farm's health savings account business by Webster Bank, based in part of Webster's problematic Paycheck Protection Program performance.

   Fintechs and other non-bank financial firms are now at the PPP trough and are getting sued. For example, there is the lawsuit filed as a class action against Fountainhead Commercial Capital LLC on May 6, noting the finance firm advertised that it would process loan requests on a first-come, first-served basis and then stealthly shuffled its line of PPP applicants so that it would lock down the largest lending fees first.

     Meanwhile Paulson of the OCC, which wants to admit fintechs into banking without regulation, says no one is in PPP for the money. This while in response to Inner City Press' FOIA request for Otting's schedule the OCC redacted the names of banks that he met without, and obscured others. (A FOIA appeal has been filed.)

   Amid all this, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press / Community on the Move are launching a new project. Watch this site.

Capital One Bank Switch of Business Balance to Personal Is Sued in SDNY

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

SDNY COURTHOUSE, May 12 – Capital One Bank (USA) NA was sued in May 2019 for putting the balance on a "Capital One Spark Signature Business Card" onto plaintiff's personal credit history, disqualifying him from a loan. 

    Capital One removed case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in which on May 12 a conference was held that Inner City Press covered.

   SDNY Magistrate Judge Kevin N. Fox set a discovery schedule. 

    Capital One's Park Avenue lawyer said to "Tee it up for a mediator."   

   Judge Fox said, If not, submit joint pre-trial order in November. Let me turn now to protective order.

   It turned out that Capital One Bank (USA) NA's proposed Protective Order purported to bind third parties to a confidentiality agreement. Judge Fox ordered modified that and other provisions.

 The case is Kapin, et al. v. Capital One Bank (USA) NA, 19-cv-5899 (Liman / Fox).

May 11, 2020

Weakening CRA Comptroller Otting Met Bank CEOs and Clarence Thomas FOIA Appeal Filed

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

SDNY COURT / BRONX, May 10 –  As US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting moved toward closing the public comment period amid the COVID-19 pandemic on his widely criticized rule to weaken the Community Reinvestment Act, he took one-on-one input from JPMorgan Chase's Jaime Dimon, and the CEOs of Capital One, Santander, Citizens Bank and others.

  These others have their names obscured in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's May 6 response to Inner City Press' February 12 Freedom of Information Act request for

"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."

   None of the briefing books have been provided, and many of the names of people Otting met with are obscured.

 Listed are, however, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Senator Tom Tillis (about "swaps") on June 10, 2019, and Rick Perry, twice.  View on Scribd; download on Patreon here.

  Along with Chase's Jaime Dimon, Otting conversed about CRA with former Chase CRA officer Mark Willis, and had a meeting about a "Project Madison," unexplained in the FOIA response.

   There are many empty days, a trip to Japan and the Philippines that is mostly empty but for MUFG, and page after page of "private appointment," "Do Not Schedule" and "Desk Time." There is a reference to "Citi Bank" that is obscured. Inner City Press has now appealed under FOIA:

"This is a FOIA appeal for all withheld portions of Comptroller Otting's schedule and all other withheld records responsive to Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch's underlying FOIA request.  On May 6 Inner City Press belatedly received some responsive documents, but even on the Comptroller's schedule entries are redacted or in some cases unreadable - including the names of banks and CEOs met with. For example on January 24, 2020 there is a flurry of calls to bank CEOs, but only Wells Fargo and MUFG are legible. The calls between 10 am and 11:30 am only list "CRA CAL" -- then cut off. The names of these banks must be disclosed.  And more: On December 10, 2019, the noon briefing has the Comptroller's counterparty met with entirely redacted. This is not acceptable, and is being appealed as well as the withholding of "material attached" on that day, and throughout.  On January 2, 2020, there is "Discuss [b(8)] and against on January 3, b(8). This must be released - at this remove, and because it if the very purpose of FOIA. Who was Comtroller Otting meeting with? About what? For these reasons we are appealing all redactions and withholdings, on an expedited basis."

   While even Otting's partner in weakening CRA, the FDIC, has extended the comment period for foreign banks, Otting insists that excluding the public and community required to stay at home and closing his comment period is fine. The OCC's partial FOIA response to Inner City Press shows who Otting is working for. Watch this site.

May 4, 2020

Amid COVID Fair Finance Watch Challenges Webster Bank Bid For State Farm HSAs to OCC

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

UN GATE / SDNY COURT, May 2 – Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, U.S. bank regulators like Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting are continuing to rubber stamp bank mergers, even by banks who are under-performing in the Paycheck Protection Program.

  On May 2 Fair Finance Watch, and Inner City Press on FOIA, filed a formal challenge with Otting's OCC to the application by Webster Bank to acquire State Farm Bank FSB, its problematic health savings accounts, no less. Here is some of it:

"This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the OCC's public comment period on the Application by Webster Bank NA to acquire State Farm FSB / Health Savings Accounts. Given complaints against State Farm's HSAs, and Webster Bank's PPP performance, public hearings are needed when they are not, as now, prohibited by social distancing rules. The CRA deform proposal should be shelved.

While Comptroller Otting has said he never saw discrimination (except being told by family members about it), consider for the record on this application that even as reflected by the too-limited 2018 HMDA data available on the CFPB's website, Webster Bank in New York State in 2018 made 270 loans to whites - and only NINE to African Americans, out of proportion to the demographics of its service area and of other lenders' activities in it.       While making only NINE loans to African Americans in NYS in 2018, Webster denied 16 applications from Africans, much more disparate that its ratio for whites: 270 loans made, 145 denial: signifcantly more disparate to African Americans.

      This 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.    

   Consider for the record that "the head of Waterbury-based Webster Bank admitted his company can improve its performance in getting money into the hands of loan applicants.  “Certainly we wanted to help every small business borrower and customer of Webster that we could,” said CEO John Ciulla, speaking Tuesday on a conference call. “We got through approximately 30 percent applications approved (and) 30 percent funded, plus or minus a few percentage points on both sides of that."  Webster Bank has the third biggest base of deposits in Connecticut, offering both traditional savings and loans accounts as well as a health-savings account business that is among the largest in the nation. On Tuesday, Webster bolstered its HSA Bank subsidiary with the acquisition of 24,000 health-savings accounts from State Farm totaling $140 million."     

 No, that has not been approved. And it should not be. #TreasureCRA. Otting's crusade to weaken the Community Reinvestment Act has ghoulishly persisted even as his partner the FDIC has given foreign banks an extension of their comment period, on living wills. We'll have more on this.

April 27, 2020

As FinTechs Like NewTek Snub Small Business While At PPP Trough CRA Should Apply Inner City Press Says

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon