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.


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

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is in the cross hairs. Now in its mid-year report Mick Mulvaney requests four changes: (i) subject the Bureau to Congressional appropriations; (ii) require Congressional approval for major rules; (iii) make the director accountable to the President’s exercise of executive authority; and (iv) create an independent Inspector General for the agency. Mulvaney writes that the cycle of Congressional frustration with the CFPB will repeat “ ad infinitum unless Congress acts to make [the Bureau] accountable to the American people.” Mulvaney is set to testify on April 11 before the full House Financial Services Committee. Watch this site.

As BancorpSouth Pays $13M To Shareholders Misled on Redlining & Money Laundering, Pay To Play

By Matthew R. Lee

South Bronx, New York, April 3 – The lack of seriousness in US bank regulation, the mechanical repeating of whatever a challenged bank says, has been exemplified by the gambit by BancorpSouth, which Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch challenged on disparities and which settled racial redlining charges, to drop its Federal Reserve charter and evade regulation. Now BancorpSouth is paying $13 million to settle a lawsuit in Federal court by shareholders who say the bank misled them about not only money laundering but also its fair lending record. Pay to continue to play. We'll have more on this. ICP/FFW timely protested that application to the FDIC: "Dear Regional Director Elmquist, Ass't Regional Director Finnegan and others at the FDIC: "This is a first timely comment opposing, requesting hearings and an extension of the comment period on BancorpSouth's cynical application to evade regulation after its redlining and settlement. Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch protested the applications of BancorpSouth to merge with Ouachita Bancshares Corporation and thereby indirectly acquire Ouachita Independent Bank, and with Central Community Corporation, and thereby indirectly acquire First State Bank Central Texas, Austin, Texas. - based on racial discrimination in lending... Now BancorpSouth makes this application, and its CEO Dan Rollins states that it wants to “alleviate... regulatory oversight,” and become the “only state-chartered bank not a part of the Federal Reserve system.” We oppose this cynical evasion, particularly by one of the few banks having settled redlining charges.

April 1, 2018

As NY Fed's Dudley Calls $250B Banks Small, Murky Process to Replace Him Called Out

By Matthew R. Lee, Patreon

NEW YORK, March 30 – Amid focus on who at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York should replace outgoing William Dudley, on March 30 Dudley himself misrepresented the bill S.2155 as offering relief to "small banks" -- actually, it's banks up to $250 billion in assets, and foreign mega-banks larger than that. Dudley's misleading comment came on the New York public radio show of Brian Lehrer, who erroneously said that the bill has been enacted "by Congress" when it has only passed the Senate. Meanwhile everyone from Mayor Bill de Blasio to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is saying the Fed's process for naming the President of its Reserve Bank is not transparent enough. We'll have more on this. Collusion between payday lenders and national banks has been invited by US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, under whose watch OneWest Bank generated fake public comments urging approval of its merger with CIT. Otting has lifted the 2002 consent order prohibiting ACE Cash Express from "partnering" with national banks. Speaking earlier in, where else, Las Vegas Otting said, "We think there’s a big market there that’s underserved, that really has the ability to be served by capital going forward." When he was selling off OneWest, those whose e-mail addresses and identities were stolen in order to promote the merger were thanked by David Finnegan of the OCC Otting now runs. Finnegan then asked OneWest's and Otting's lawyer Stephen M. Salley at Sullivan & Cromwell to explain. We'll have more on this - there's a lot of explaining to do. On March 14 as what was presented as a community bank regulatory relief bill was passed in the U.S. Senate 67-31 as S.2155, along with undercutting fair lending enforcement the bill would provide particular benefit to the US subsidiaries of some of the largest global banks. These include at least one which helped evade North Korea sanctions: Bank of Tokyo - Mitsubishi...

March 24, 2018

Payday Lender Invited Back As Banks' Predatory Partner by OCC's Otting, OneWest Echo

By Matthew R. Lee, Patreon

NEW YORK, March 24 – Collusion between payday lenders and national banks has been invited by US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, under whose watch OneWest Bank generated fake public comments urging approval of its merger with CIT. Otting has lifted the 2002 consent order prohibiting ACE Cash Express from "partnering" with national banks. Speaking earlier in, where else, Las Vegas Otting said, "We think there’s a big market there that’s underserved, that really has the ability to be served by capital going forward." When he was selling off OneWest, those whose e-mail addresses and identities were stolen in order to promote the merger were thanked by David Finnegan of the OCC Otting now runs. Finnegan then asked OneWest's and Otting's lawyer Stephen M. Salley at Sullivan & Cromwell to explain. We'll have more on this - there's a lot of explaining to do.

March 19, 2018

As US Senate Passes S.2155 Which Serves BOT Mitsubishi, North Korea Sanctions Evader, Ironic Praise

By Matthew R. Lee, Patreon

NEW YORK, March 14 – As what was presented as a community bank regulatory relief bill was passed in the U.S. Senate 67-31 as S.2155, along with undercutting fair lending enforcement the bill would provide particular benefit to the US subsidiaries of some of the largest global banks. These include at least one which helped evade North Korea sanctions: Bank of Tokyo - Mitsubishi. But on the evening of March 14, this from the White House: "President Donald J. Trump commends the Senate, led by Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) for passing S.2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. The President supports this bill, and as recently noted in a Statement  of Administration Policy (SAP), he would sign it into law. The bill provides much-needed relief from the Dodd-Frank Act for thousands of community banks and credit unions and will spur lending and economic growth without creating risks to the financial system. By tailoring regulation, the bill seeks to prevent excessive regulation from undermining the viability of local and regional banks and their ability to serve their communities. The President looks forward to discussing any further revisions the House is interested in making, with the goal of bipartisan, pro-growth Dodd-Frank relief reaching his desk as soon as possible."

Relief for foreign banks violating North Korea sanctions? These are banks with over $250 billion in assets which, by using "intermediary holding companies," would be evading regulation: Barclays, BBVA, Credit Suisse, RBC, Deutsche Bank, UBS, Santander, BNP Paribas and, notably, MUFG a/k/a Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi. This last, as Inner City Press has reported on, already switched regulator to escape an including into non-enforcement of North Korea sanctions, in a process that included no public comment period at all.
The OCC gave its approval in a week even while belatedly listing Bank of Tokyo - Mitsubishi's filings under "THESE APPLICATIONS APPEARED INCORRECTLY IN A PRIOR WEEKLY BULLETIN." Photo here; link to Bulletin here. The public, as is the trend under the OCC, was cut out.  Something to keep in mind as S.2155 is portrayed as all about community banks. While Inner City Press has been most focused on the proposed changes to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act rules (NCRC op-ed here), the august New York Times appears to have lifted from the detailed earlier reporting of The Intercept. This happens at the United Nations all the time, with the added twist of the corporate thieves them working with the UN to evict and restrict the Press with the scoops. But it's particularly ironic hear, when predatory lending is the underlying topic. So we'll run these quotes to explicitly credit The Intercept: "The bill raises that threshold to $100 billion immediately, and to $250 billion within 18 months. That would relieve 25 of the 38 largest U.S. banks from enhanced regulations, including Citizens Bank (Philadelphia Phillies), Comerica (Detroit Tigers), M&T Bank (Baltimore Ravens), SunTrust (Atlanta Braves), KeyBank (Buffalo Sabres), BB&T (Wake Forest University), Regions Bank (AA baseball’s Birmingham Barons), and Zions Bank (Salt Lake City’s Real Monarchs of Major League Soccer).... The bill raises that threshold to $100 billion immediately, and to $250 billion within 18 months. That would relieve 25 of the 38 largest U.S. banks from enhanced regulations, including Citizens Bank (Philadelphia Phillies), Comerica (Detroit Tigers), M&T Bank (Baltimore Ravens), SunTrust (Atlanta Braves), KeyBank (Buffalo Sabres), BB&T (Wake Forest University), Regions Bank (AA baseball’s Birmingham Barons), and Zions Bank (Salt Lake City’s Real Monarchs of Major League Soccer)... Raising the threshold for stadium banks will likely also affect the U.S. operations of globally systemic foreign banks, companies like Barclays (Brooklyn Nets), Bank of Montreal (Toronto FC of Major League Soccer), BBVA Compass (Houston Dynamo, MLS), Santander (minor-league baseball’s York Revolution), and Deutsche Bank (an equestrian stadium in Aachen, Germany)." The bill is S.2155, the "Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act." Meanwhile, the bank with the worst record in the United States for gouging consumers with overdraft fees, Ameris, has applied to the Federal Reserve to buy  Hamilton State Bancshares - which, in the Atlanta MSA in 2016 for home purchase loans received 52 applications from whites, originated 37 of those as loans, denying only 12 applications. But for African Americans for home purchase loans, Hamilton State Bank denied every single on of the five applications that, based on its disparate marketing, it received or acknowledged. This is outrageous (as is Ameris' record...

March 12, 2018

Banking on the Bomb Are Citi, Chase, BofA, Wells and Goldman Sachs, ICP Asks Why In UN Global Compact?

By Matthew Russell Lee, photos

UNITED NATIONS, March 7 – Among the top ten investors in nuclear weapons are banks which stand to benefit from the de-regulatory bill S.2155 in Washington, including JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, State Street and Goldman Sachs. This is according to a just released study by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), here. Should this move them out of the UN Global Compact, administered by Secretary General Antonio Guterres? On March 7 Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: The ICAN, the Nobel Prize-winning group on nuclear weapons, has put out a list of companies that are… that they say are profiting from the nuclear weapons manufacturing industry.  So, I guess it made me wonder, in connection with the oil company question  that Stéphane [Dujarric] responded to yesterday, whether the UN Global Compact views… how it views funding and profiting from nuclear weapons production.  These are, like, major American banks — Citi, Chase, Goldman Sachs, State Street.  And… and, given that the Secretary-General… I know that, when he was in Europe, he said, this is going to be a big drive for nuclear disarmament.  Does he think this should be a criterion?  Do you think that companies should have to come up with some kind of plan to divest? Deputy Spokesman:  The criteria for the Global Compact and what it is intended to achieve are very clear on their website, and so I would just refer you to what they, themselves, state as both their mandate and the criteria for inclusion.  So that's about that.  Of course, we do encourage all companies to act in as socially responsible way as possible, and we hope that they will do so in questions of disarmament, as well. Inner City Press: Right.  Okay.  I mean, I guess I'm just wondering if he has a view since this is an issue that he says is important to him and he seems to have some input into those criteria.  They're not voted by Member States.  They're a UN Secretariat... Deputy Spokesman:  Yes.  I mean, well, it's clear what the criteria are, but the Secretary-General has made it clear that he wants all parties, including big business, to behave with a… an attitude of social responsibility, and that includes when it comes to nuclear disarmament." So will anyone be kicked out or suspended, as CEFC belatedly was?

March 5, 2018

 With Capital One now being sued for racial discrimination - closing bank branches in communities of color and steering protected classes disproportionately into debit cards - it's worth nothing CapOne is seeking to sell over $260 million in deposits to Whitney, in an almost absurdly complicated and murky transaction. We hope to have more on this.

February 26, 2018

After ICP Protest to Ameris Bank Merger With Atlantic Coast, Ameris Admits Application False

By Matthew R. Lee, Patreon

NEW YORK, February 24 – The bank with the worst record in the United States for gouging consumers with overdraft fees, Ameris, has applied to the Federal Reserve to buy Atlantic Coast Bank in Florida, and thereafter Hamilton State Bancshares. On January 29, Fair Finance Watch filed formal opposition to both with the Federal Reserve, citing the gouging, Ameris' disparate mortgage lending record in Atlanta, Georgia and Florida, and the Community Reinvestment Act. See below. It turns out, from Ameris' response, that its application was false when it said it would continue the CRA policies of Atlantic - see full response on Patreon, here, question 3. Inner City Press has requested records under the Freedom of Information Act. Now the Federal Reserve has asked Ameris a series of question, full copy here on Patreon

February 19, 2018

On CFPB, Mulvaney Dodges on Equifax Probe As Fee Gouger Ameris Is Challenged by FFW

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, February 11 – When Mick Mulvaney appeared on CBS's Face the Nation on February 11, it was largely about Rob Porter, Trump chief of staff John Kelly and the recent budget deal. But new host Major Garrett then turned to Mulvaney's "other job" at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and asked if Mulvaney is dropping the investigation into Equifax. Mulvaney, describing himself as lawyerly, refused to answer, telling the 30 Senators who have written to him to wait to see Equifax' next quarterly 10Q filing with the SEC. He said he'll enforce the law, not make it like Richard Cordray. Garrett got animated - to make sure he got called "Major" and not "John."  Meanwhile the bank with the worst record in the United States for gouging consumers with overdraft fees, Ameris, has applied to the Federal Reserve and FDIC to buy Atlantic Coast Bank in Florida, and thereafter Hamilton State Bancshares. On January 29, Fair Finance Watch filed formal opposition to both with the Federal Reserve, citing the gouging, Ameris' disparate mortgage lending record in Atlanta, Georgia and Florida, and the Community Reinvestment Act. Inner City Press has requested records under the Freedom of Information Act. The Fed acknowledged the filing on January 30 and sent it to Ameris' lawyer Jody L. Spencer at Rogers & Hardin, LLP. On February 6, the FDIC ruled that it is a formal protest, letter here on Patreon.

February 12, 2018

FDIC Deems Challenge to Ameris Bank Merger With Atlantic Coast A Formal Protest, Radio Silence

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, February 10 – The bank with the worst record in the United States for gouging consumers with overdraft fees, Ameris, has applied to the Federal Reserve and FDIC to buy Atlantic Coast Bank in Florida, and thereafter Hamilton State Bancshares. On January 29, Fair Finance Watch filed formal opposition to both with the Federal Reserve, citing the gouging, Ameris' disparate mortgage lending record in Atlanta, Georgia and Florida, and the Community Reinvestment Act. Inner City Press has requested records under the Freedom of Information Act. The Fed acknowledged the filing on January 30 and sent it to Ameris' lawyer Jody L. Spencer at Rogers & Hardin, LLP. On February 6, the FDIC ruled that it is a formal protest, letter here on Patreon. And still no response at all from Ameris, which says it wants to the deal(s) done fast... 

February 5, 2018

ICP Challenged E Trade-Trust Co of America, Banks Scoffs at Needs to Improve, FINRA Settlement

By Matthew R. Lee

WASHINGTON, January 29 – On January 12, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch filed with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency a challenge to the application by E Trade Savings Bank to acquire Trust Company of America. Inner City Press found and wrote: "E Trade Savings Bank's most recent CRA Evaluation, on its website, gives it for example a rare Needs to Improve rating for the entire states of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Oregon, and an undeserved “Satisfactory” for New York. How can a bank be “Needs to Improve” in six states - of its only 13 states, including DC - and be moving for this acquisition? Notwithstanding the OCC's recent pronouncement about banks with Needs to Improve ratings, which ICP contends should have been subject to notice and comment, this low performance level militates for the extension of the comment period and hearing(s) ICP is requesting. Also, for the record: “FINRA Fines E*Trade Securities LLC $900,000 for Supervisory Violations Related to Best Execution and Protection of Customer Order Information."  Taken together, these violations militate for the extension of the comment period and hearing(s) ICP is requesting - and for the denial of the application. On January 29, Etrade's lawyers at Skadden Arps downplayed the needs to improve CRA ratings (their full filing here, since Scribd often disappears), then argues that even a settlement with FINRA "does not bear on the statutory factors." Juvenile thinking seems to be spreading.

January 29, 2018

Bank Of America To Raise Fees on Low Income People, Critics Cite Predatory BofA

By Matthew R. Lee

WASHINGTON, January 23 – Fresh from the tax cut, Bank of America has announced it will charge "low-balance" (low-income) cosumers $12 a month for a checking account unless they have a $1,500 account balance or monthly direct deposits of at least $250. Meanwhile Bank of America is closing branches in low and moderate income census tracts, for example in Dallas and Decatur, Georgia, Worchester, Massachusetts and elsewhere. In New York and elsewhere, Bank of America in being denounced. But what will its regulators including the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency do?

January 22, 2018

In DC, Mulvaney Says CFPB To Reconsider Payday Rule, Critics Cite Predatory Lending

By Matthew R. Lee

WASHINGTON, January 16 – In the battle for the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, on January 10 US District Judge Timothy Kelly ruled that Leandra English lacks a likelihood of success on the merits in removing Mick Mulvaney as acting director. Meanwhile Mulvaney on January 16 issued this, on the Payday Rule: "January 16, 2018 is the effective date of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection’s final rule entitled “Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans" ("Payday Rule").  The Bureau intends to engage in a rulemaking process so that the Bureau may reconsider the Payday Rule.  Although most provisions of the Payday Rule do not require compliance until August 19, 2019, the effective date marks codification of the Payday Rule in the Code of Federal Regulations.  Today’s effective date also establishes April 16, 2018, as the deadline to submit an application for preliminary approval to become a registered information system ("RIS") under the Payday Rule. However, the Bureau may waive this deadline pursuant to 12 C.F.R. 1041.11(c)(3)(iii). Recognizing that this preliminary application deadline might cause some entities to engage in work in preparing an application to become a RIS, the Bureau will entertain waiver requests from any potential applicant." Oppositio came quickly: The rule release was years in the making, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless
effort of community and faith leaders, consumer and civil rights advocates, and countless people
across the country who organized and spoke out against the devastating payday loan debt trap. There is no reason to reopen the rule, and doing so shows disdain for consumer protection and low-income communities that are targeted by these debt trap loans.” We'll have more on this.

January 15, 2018

In DC, Mulvaney Still at CFPB, Fair Finance Watch Challenges E Trade-Trust Co of America

By Matthew R. Lee

WASHINGTON, January 13 – In the battle for the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, on January 10 US District Judge Timothy Kelly ruled that  Leandra English lacks a likelihood of success on the merits in removing Mick Mulvaney as acting director. Meanwhile Mulvaney is putting under “strictest review” the CFPB's fund to compensate victims of fraud. And fraud is more and more pervasive. On January 12, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch filed with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency a challenge to the application by E Trade Savings Bank to acquire Trust Company of America. Inner City Press found and wrote: "E Trade Savings Bank's most recent CRA Evaluation, on its website, gives it for example a rare Needs to Improve rating for the entire states of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Oregon, and an undeserved “Satisfactory” for New York. How can a bank be “Needs to Improve” in six states - of its only 13 states, including DC - and be moving for this acquisition? Notwithstanding the OCC's recent pronouncement about banks with Needs to Improve ratings, which ICP contends should have been subject to notice and comment, this low performance level militates for the extension of the comment period and hearing(s) ICP is requesting. Also, for the record: “FINRA Fines E*Trade Securities LLC $900,000 for Supervisory Violations Related to Best Execution and Protection of Customer Order Information."  Taken together, these violations militate for the extension of the comment period and hearing(s) ICP is requesting - and for the denial of the application. Earlier in January Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch filed with the Federal Reserve for evidentiary hearings on the application by Charles Schwab Corporation to set up Charles Schwab Trust Bank in Henderson, Nevada. It has been reported that this bank would “focus on Schwab’s workplace benefit plan clients, such as employers who offer 401k plans, and the intermediaries who serve them.” But Schwab has been sued by its own employees, about 401k plans. See, e.g., Severson v. Charles Schwab Corp. , N.D. Cal., No. 3:17-cv-00285-JCS, complaint filed 1/19/17 ). Schwab “larded” its own 401(k) plan with expensive and poorly performing investment funds and services that earned fees for the company at the expense of workers’ retirement savings, according to the new lawsuit, filed Jan. 19. The lawsuit also targets the performance of Schwab’s stable value fund and claims that Schwab executives allowed the plan’s trustee to profit from the unallocated plan assets it held. It is also noteworthy that, Inner City Press wrote to the Fed, despite the issues there, Schwab reportedly held merger talks with SoFi earlier this year. Fair Finance Watch has also reviewed, in Nevada, Charles Schwab Bank's lending in the Reno MSA. For home purchase loans, all of the loans were to whites (none to Latinos or African Americans), all to applicants over 120% of MSA median income. The same is true of refinance lending. On the current record, these applications should not be approved." We'll have more on this.

January 8, 2018

They call it the National Law Review, and it's signed by a big M&A lawfirm, but they mistake HMDA for CRA in reporting on a New York credit union's CFPB lawsuit: " People’s spent considerable time arguing that Mulvaney’s decision to pause HMDA-related enforcement actions was causing People’s concrete harm. Banks know that regulators use HMDA data to evaluate Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”) compliance. People’s claims that, to satisfy their CRA obligations, Banks often make deposits at People’s that pay no or low interest. People’s uses those deposits to make loans in the community.  People’s argued that Mulvaney’s policy with respect to HMDA enforcement will give banks an incentive to falsify their HMDA data to appear compliant with the CRA without actually making the deposits. This, People’s argues, will have an adverse interest on its bottom line. To call the argument “strained” is beyond generous." Well, no. Such deposits are entirely different than HMDA data. We'll have more on this - and on recent applications for trust banks and trust business and how CRA should be considered.

January 1, 2018

After Covering Up Sterling Bank Scam, OCC Withholds Records, ICP's FOIA Appeal

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, December 30 – Amid the ongoing scandal of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency covering up Sterling Bank's unreliable Community Reinvestment Act data by withholding most of 400 pages released to Inner City Press under the Freedom of Information the OCC is now trying to strong-arm Inner City Press into scaling back its request to exclude "internal OCC communications." On November 30 the OCC wrote to Inner City Press, "Since the Federal Reserve Board has already submitted its final response to you regarding your FOIA request to them, would you consider modifying your OCC request to receiving: 1) All communications between the OCC and the Bank minus the Federal Reserve Board application transmittal documents; 2) Bank CRA Data; 3) Public Comments received by OCC on the merger application. Please respond to this email if you concur as soon as practicable." Inner City Press replied, "The problem Inner City Press has with this proposed limitation of FOIA request is we don't know what we are waiving - what beyond this that is responsive to our request are you asking us to waive our request to?" Now on December 5, this response: "OCC internal communications." But this is a purpose of FOIA, to see how government actually works, and for who. On December 27, the OCC provided Inner City Press a "final" response with virtually all information about the CRA data redacted. Inner City Press has submitted a FOIA appeal "of the OCC's December 27, 2017 (and any other) Denials of ICP's FOIA Request regarding the application Sterling to acquire Astoria and in particular Sterling's unreliable CRA data and the [OCC's] awareness of this unreliability." This is UNacceptable.

December 25, 2017

After ICP Bank Merger Challenge, Fed Asked Associated of Green Bay Market, Reply Here

By Matthew R. Lee, Associated reply here

NEW YORK, December 21 – When Associated Banc-Corp to merge with Bank Mutual Corporation, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch on October 11 filed comments with the Federal Reserve on the 36 branch closings and the anti-competitive effects, also stating that "Fair Finance Watch has reviewed applicant Associated's home purchase lending in the just-out 2016 HMDA data in the Milwaukee MSA and finds serious disparities militating for evidentiary hearings and the denial of this application. For conventional home purchase loans, Associated denied the applications of African Americans 4.16 times more frequently than those of whites; it made 807 such loans to whites and only 41 to African Americans. Even cumulating Table 4-1 loans with Table 4-2, Associated's denial rate disparity in 2016 was 3.71; it made 861 loans to whites and only 48 to African Americans." Two months later, the Federal Reserve asked the banks (letter online here on Patreon): "Based on 2017 Summary of Deposits data, the proposed transaction would exceed the concentration thresholds under the Board’s Rules Regarding Delegation of Authority (12 CFR 265.11(c)(11)(v)) and the Department of Justice Bank Merger Competitive Review Guidelines in the Green Bay, Wisconsin banking market (the “Green Bay market”). Specifically, Associated would control approximately 36.6% of deposits in the Green Bay market upon consummation of the proposal. Discuss the effects of the proposed transaction on competition in the Green Bay market, including any factors that would mitigate the potentially adverse competitive effects of the proposal in the Green Bay market." A week later, Associated's counsel submitted a response, citing among others Denmark Bancshares and a slew of credit unions. Reply here on Patreon. The battle for the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not over. Leandra English on December 6 asked U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the federal district court in Washington to issue a preliminary and permanent injunction against President Trump that would block his appointment of Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. Meanwhile, the low percentage of banks being given less than satisfactory Community Reinvestment Act rating has become infinitesimal. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has signaled that even those few low scores will have no impact.

In a "Policy and Procedures Manual" quietly issued on November 8, with no notice or comment, the OCC says "An overall less than satisfactory CRA rating is not a bar to approval of an application. Rather, the facts and
circumstances of the application must be evaluated as discussed in this PPM." (PPM 6300-2). Now the American Bankers Association has issued a ironically termed white paper congratulating the OCC for this and urging it and the other agencies, including the FDIC for which a Fifth Third lawyer is nominated to become chief, to go even further. We'll have more on this- and this: Seven months after Wells Fargo Bank's CRA rating was dropped two levels to "Needs to Improve," barring it from acquisitions, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has quietly said, in a footnote to a Bulletin issued on October 12, that "The OCC’s policy is not to lower a bank’s CRA composite or component rating by more than one rating level." See here, footnote 8. So when did this become the OCC's policy, after it dropped Wells by two levels? Call it a stealth sop to Wells Fargo - and seemingly a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. We'll have more on this.

December 18, 2017

After ICP Bank Merger Challenge, Fed Asks Associated About Green Bay Market, CFPB Statis?

By Matthew R. Lee, Fed letter here

NEW YORK, December 14– When Associated Banc-Corp to merge with Bank Mutual Corporation, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch and others on October 11 filed comments with the Federal Reserve on the 36 branch closings and the anti-competitive effects, also stating that "Fair Finance Watch has reviewed applicant Associated's home purchase lending in the just-out 2016 HMDA data in the Milwaukee MSA and finds serious disparities militating for evidentiary hearings and the denial of this application. For conventional home purchase loans, Associated denied the applications of African Americans 4.16 times more frequently than those of whites; it made 807 such loans to whites and only 41 to African Americans. Even cumulating Table 4-1 loans with Table 4-2, Associated's denial rate disparity in 2016 was 3.71; it made 861 loans to whites and only 48 to African Americans." Now two months later, the Federal Reserve has asked the banks (letter online here on Patreon): "Based on 2017 Summary of Deposits data, the proposed transaction would exceed the concentration thresholds under the Board’s Rules Regarding Delegation of Authority (12 CFR 265.11(c)(11)(v)) and the Department of Justice Bank Merger Competitive Review Guidelines in the Green Bay, Wisconsin banking market (the “Green Bay market”). Specifically, Associated would control approximately 36.6% of deposits in the Green Bay market upon consummation of the proposal. Discuss the effects of the proposed transaction on competition in the Green Bay market, including any factors that would mitigate the potentially adverse competitive effects of the proposal in the Green Bay market." So is the Fed inviting arguments that a 36.6% market share would be fine? We'll have more on this.

December 11, 2017

In DC, Battle for CFPB Continues As English Sues Again, ABA Cheers OCC Undercutting CRA

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, December 7– The battle for the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not over. Leandra English on December 6 asked U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the federal district court in Washington to issue a preliminary and permanent injunction against President Trump that would block his appointment of Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. Meanwhile, the low percentage of banks being given less than satisfactory Community Reinvestment Act rating has become infinitesimal. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has signaled that even those few low scores will have no impact.

In a "Policy and Procedures Manual" quietly issued on November 8, with no notice or comment, the OCC says "An overall less than satisfactory CRA rating is not a bar to approval of an application. Rather, the facts and
circumstances of the application must be evaluated as discussed in this PPM." (PPM 6300-2). Now the American Bankers Association has issued a ironically termed white paper congratulating the OCC for this and urging it and the other agencies, including the FDIC for which a Fifth Third lawyer is nominated to become chief, to go even further. We'll have more on this- and this: Seven months after Wells Fargo Bank's CRA rating was dropped two levels to "Needs to Improve," barring it from acquisitions, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has quietly said, in a footnote to a Bulletin issued on October 12, that "The OCC’s policy is not to lower a bank’s CRA composite or component rating by more than one rating level." See here, footnote 8. So when did this become the OCC's policy, after it dropped Wells by two levels? Call it a stealth sop to Wells Fargo - and seemingly a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. We'll have more on this.

December 4, 2017

Trump Taps Fifth Third Bank Lawyer For FDIC Amid OCC Scams on CRA & Sanctions, CFPB

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, December 1 – Amid the scandal of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency covering up Sterling Bank's unreliable Community Reinvestment Act data (see below) by withholding most of 400 pages released to Inner City Press under the Freedom of Information (and now trying to strong-arm Inner City Press into scaling back its request), the FDIC is primed to take as its leader the lawyer of Fifth Third Bank, Jelena McWilliams. When Fair Finance Watch asked Fifth Third for its Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data, Fifth Third insisted on only giving the data in paper form, unlike nearly all other banks which gave it electronically. The effect was to make it impossible to analyze patterns in the data, the purpose of the HMDA law. Meanwhile the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has become a battlefield. In order to run in Ohio, Richard Cordray stepped down at the head of the CFPB, naming as his successor Leandra English. Hours later, Trump issued a statement that "he is designating Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Mick Mulvaney as Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)." On November 25 the White House held a background press call, on which opposition to the naming of Mulvaney was characterized coming from "blog-posts." Still, the Senior Administration Officials were asked if they plan to have Leandra English removed from the premises. No, was the answer: she should show up at the Deputy. But have they spoken with Ms English? No, was the answer.  On Sunday English filed suit against Mulvany "in his capacity as the person claiming to be the acting director of the CFPB." But a preliminary injunction has been denied. Watch this site. After non-response by the OCC even has it promises merger approvals to banks with Needs to Improve CRA ratings and allows Bank of Tokyo - Mitsubishi to skirt North Korea sanctions review by fast approving applications for which effective public notice was never provided (ICP scoop on notice here), now ICP and CRC have filed suit

November 27, 2017

Amid OCC Scams on Sanctions & CRA, Cordray Taps English, Trump Mulvaney, Showdown?

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, November 25 – Amid the scandal of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency covering up Sterling Bank's unreliable Community Reinvestment Act data (see below) by withholding most of 400 pages released to Inner City Press under the Freedom of Information after the nomination of Joseph Otting, formerly of OneWest Bank to be Comptroller, back in July Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch and the California Reinvestment Coalition submitted this FOIA request. But now, beyond the OCC, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has become the battlefield. In order to run in Ohio, Richard Cordray stepped down at the head of the CFPB, naming as his successor Leandra English. Hours later, Trump issued a statement that "he is designating Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Mick Mulvaney as Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)." On November 25 the White House held a background press call, on which opposition to the naming of Mulvaney was characterized coming from "blog-posts." Still, the Senior Administration Officials were asked if they plan to have Leandra English removed from the premises. No, was the answer: she should show up at the Deputy. But have they spoken with Ms English? No, was the answer. So show down on Monday? Watch this site. After non-response by the OCC even has it promises merger approvals to banks with Needs to Improve CRA ratings and allows Bank of Tokyo - Mitsubishi to skirt North Korea sanctions review by fast approving applications for which effective public notice was never provided (ICP scoop on notice here),

November 20, 2017

Amid OCC Scams on Sanctions & CRA, Withhold Otting Documents, ICP & CRC Sue

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, November 17 – Amid the scandal of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency covering up Sterling Bank's unreliable Community Reinvestment Act data (see below) by withholding most of 400 pages released to Inner City Press under the Freedom of Information after the nomination of Joseph Otting, formerly of OneWest Bank to be Comptroller, back in July Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch and the California Reinvestment Coalition submitted this FOIA request. Now, after non-response by the OCC even has it promises merger approvals to banks with Needs to Improve CRA ratings and allows Bank of Tokyo - Mitsubishi to skirt North Korea sanctions review by fast approving applications for which effective public notice was never provided (ICP scoop on notice here), now ICP and CRC have filed suit, stating "No formal response was ever received from the OCC in response to Plaintiffs’ FOIA Request. To date, the OCC has not disclosed any records responsive to Plaintiffs’ FOIA Request nor has sent any correspondence to Plaintiffs informing
them of the OCC’s need for an extension of time to process the FOIA Request. As of November 10, 2017, Plaintiffs’ FOIA Request was listed as 'In Process' on the OCC’s FOIA request portal... Defendant has far exceeded the 20-working day statutory time limit for the processing of FOIA requests, as required by 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A).
12. Plaintiffs have a statutory right to the records sought in its requests... WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for relief as follows: A. Order Defendant to conduct a reasonable search for all records responsive to Plaintiffs’ FOIA Request, and to immediately disclose all records or portions of records responsive to the FOIA Request in their entirety that are non- exempt; B. Issue a declaratory judgment that Plaintiffs are entitled to disclosure of the records responsive to Plaintiffs’ FOIA Request; C. Enjoin Defendant from continuing to withhold responsive, non-exempt records or portions of records from Plaintiffs; D. Provide for expeditious proceedings of this action... Dated: November 17, 2017 By: s/ James H. Kaster." Watch this site. As to Otting, beyond his gaming of the CRA system, another problem has arisen: Otting misrepresented his resume on education. He listed a degree on his resume from the "School of Credit and Financial Management at Dartmouth College." It's a fraud. "Joseph Otting is not a Dartmouth graduate," Dartmouth spokeswoman Diana Lawrence said. "Dartmouth does not have a school of credit and financial management." In turns out the school is a four-week program spread over two years, which rented space from Dartmouth. It's not only Sterling's CRA data is an unreliable. While at OneWest, as reported by Inner City Press in 2015, Otting was best know for trying to get his own employees, fundees and investors to submit comments to the OCC to support OneWest's purchase by CIT.  Click here. Otting wrote: 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

  Inner City Press and the California Reinvestment Coalition, both members of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) will have more on this.

November 13, 2017

And now a new outrage at the OCC:  "An overall less than satisfactory CRA rating is not a bar to approval of an application. Rather, the facts and circumstances of the application must be evaluated as discussed in this PPM." With grade inflation, very very few banks get less than satisfactory ratings. And now at the OCC, even that hardly matters. https://occ.gov/publications/publications-by-type/other-publications-reports/ppms/ppm-6300-2.pdf We'll have more on this. 

November 6, 2017

BancorpSouth, after settling redlining charges, has escaped Federal Reserve regulation, announcing on Oct 31 it has approvals from the "Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Mississippi Department of Banking and Consumer Finance... to improve efficiency through the elimination of redundant corporate infrastructure and duplicative regulatory oversight." Meanwhile in Montana, Glacier Bancorp proposes acquiring First Security Bank - a combination which would control 35% of the local Bozeman banking market...

October 30, 2017

Shameful: Mid America Bank and Trust Company has a Needs to Improve CRA rating but was allowed to pay $5 million and get acquired by Reliable Community Bancshares. Impunity.

October 23, 2017

Wells Fargo Was Dropped 2 Levels by OCC, Which Now Says Only 1 Level Is Its Policy, Sop

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, October 21 – Seven months after Wells Fargo Bank's Community Reinvestment Act rating was dropped two levels to "Needs to Improve," barring it from acquisitions, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has quietly said, in a footnote to a Bulletin issued on October 12, that "The OCC’s policy is not to lower a bank’s CRA composite or component rating by more than one rating level." See here, footnote 8. So when did this become the OCC's policy, after it dropped Wells by two levels? Call it a stealth sop to Wells Fargo - and seemingly a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. We'll have more on this. In July it emerged that over 800,000 people who took car loans from Wells were charged for needless auto insurance, pushing 274,000 Wells Fargo customers into delinquency and triggering nearly 25,000 wrongful vehicle repossessions. So much for the industry having cleaned itself up after the predatory lending meltdown.

October 16, 2017

Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch filed: "This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the FRB's public comment period on the Applications by Associated Banc-Corp to merge with Bank Mutual Corporation, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and acquire Bank Mutual. The Fed has received many substantive comments on this application and should hold public hearings, including on the prospective impacts of the 36 branches that Associated would close or consolidate. See, http://www.jsonline.com/story/money/2017/09/01/branch-network-pared-36-locations-associated-bank-takes-over-bank-mutual/624805001/

Fair Finance Watch has reviewed applicant Associated's home purchase lending in the just-out 2016 HMDA data in the Milwaukee MSA and finds serious disparities militating for evidentiary hearings and the denial of this application. For conventional home purchase loans, Associated denied the applications of African Americans 4.16 times more frequently than those of whites; it made 807 such loans to whites and only 41 to African Americans. Even cumulating Table 4-1 loans with Table 4-2, Associated's denial rate disparity in 2016 was 3.71; it made 861 loans to whites and only 48 to African Americans. This is outrageous. On the current record, these applications should not be approved."

October 9, 2017

In Puerto Rico, Disparate Bank Lending, Predatory Investors, UN's Maria Photo Ops

By Matthew Russell Lee

PUERTO RICO, October 3 – The UN system's International Monetary Fund has yet to announce any debt moratorium for countries impacted by the recent hurricanes, and despite photo op trips by those who could speak to and of the IMF, nothing is changing. Most holders of Puerto Rico's debt are doing nothing to help. Even in 2016 before Hurricane Maria, according to Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data just released, Banco Santander Puerto Rico made 88 conventional home purchase loans in upper income tracts in the San Juan MSA, 50 in middle income tracts, seven in moderate income tracts and NONE in low-income census tracts. Citibank made a single large loans in San Juan, for a multi-family apartment building. The UNironically named Whitebox Advisors, which has sued on Puerto Rico debt, has "a policy of not discussing Puerto Rico." We don't. Watch this site. Back on September 18 UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric gave the press a mere three minutes to sign up to attend the UN's meeting about Irma, see below. As the meeting began, Inner City Press asked not Dujarric but the spokesman for the President of the General Assembly for the PGA's view of the IMF's position on (no) debt moratorium. From the PGA Office's summary: "Asked for the President’s reaction to comments by an International Monetary Fund (IMF) official, in which the official allegedly said that the IMF would not be open to instituting a debt moratorium for hurricane-hit Antigua and Barbuda, the Spokesperson replied that the President would not want to second-guess the comments of an IMF official in an area of the IMF’s expertise. The Spokesperson reiterated that the President was committed to the recovery of Antigua and Barbuda, which is why he had convened the high-level meeting on Hurricane Irma and invited the Government of Antigua and Barbuda to speak there." In the meeting, Achim Steiner of UNDP told even Caribbean nations they could not speak, so that Robert De Niro could. You talkin' to me? When the IMF re-started its biweekly embargoed press briefings on September 14, Inner City Press submitted a question about Hurricane Irma and moratoria: "On Antigua and Barbuda, and Hurricane Irma impacted countries more generally... will there be no moratoria? What is the IMF doing?" IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice said, "There's a question from Matthew Lee on moratorium... on that, I would refer to what Mme Lagarde said a few days ago, of course the IMF has tremendous sympathy. She also said we stand ready to help. There are a number of options we can look at in that context. At the moment we are still trying to make an assessment. As a factual member, none of our members including Antigua and Barbuda have formally requested assistance from the Fund." Oh. On September 15, when Inner City Press at the UN asked Patti Smith about it, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric cut off the question saying he would answer it at his forthcoming briefing. He did not.

October 2, 2017

  While there are many toxic proposed bank mergers across the USA, the proposed in-market Wisconsin combination of Associated and Bank Mutual which would close branches is our focus this week - more than 300 comments filed, with the Federal Reserve comment period open until October 11 -- fire away!

September 25, 2017

South State Corporation, to the Federal Reserve, is making excuses for its record in the Atlanta MSA, and trying to withhold obviously public information. We'll have more on this.

September 18, 2017

Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch has filed a second comment against SoFi getting into banking: "On behalf of Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch, this is a second comment on the application by fintech company SoFi to open an FDIC-insured industrial bank in Utah, to limited its CRA assessment area to (part of) Utah while project business nationwide, and to claim that a secure credit card with interest rate north of 20% is a CRA program. We request public hearings and denial of the application, including now on the basis of the ouster of the CEO and the abuses that have come to light, including but not only financial abuses. See, for the record, https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/09/12/technology/sofi-chief-executive-toxic-workplace.html

Yet Mr. Cagney’s position had become increasingly delicate after the filing of the sexual harassment suit, which accused him of “empowering other managers to engage in sexual conduct in the workplace.”