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November 29, 2021

As Biden Taps Jay Powell for 2d Term at Fed, CRA Protests of Home BancCorp, Citizens & South State Pend

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, Nov 22 – Whether or not the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act will be again enforced until the new Administration and its regulators remains an open question.

On November 22 the Biden Administration decided to extend the time atop of the Fed of Jay Powell. Then this: "Statement by Governor Lael Brainard:  Mr. President, I am deeply honored that you are entrusting me with this responsibility at a critical time. I am committed to putting working Americans at the center of my efforts at the Federal Reserve. This means getting inflation down." And what will Jay Powell II be?

November 22, 2021

How sleazy are some banks, and how sleaze does the Federal Reserve let them be? Inner City Press is a challenger to Webster - Sterling. The Fed asked the banks questions; the banks were supposed to send Inner City Press copy of their answer. But not only did Webster's corporate counsel withhold information about branch closing - the letter making the request to withhold that was not emailed to Inner City Press but instead sent by snail mail, to an old address Inner City Press never used in its challenge to this merger. Hide the ball...

November 15, 2021

Citizens Bank Gets Pot & Lending Qs from Fed After Investors Bank Hit With FDIC Conditions

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, Nov 10 – Whether or not the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act will be again enforced until the new Administration and its regulators is an open question. And the proposed acquisition of Investors Bank by Citizens Bank NA is litmus test.

Investors Bank is one of the most disparate banks in New York State, where in 2020 it made only three mortgage loans to African Americans, while denying fully seven applications from African Americans. By contrast, it made 164 loans to whites while denying only 76 applications from whites.

  Inner City Press raised the 2019 disparities to the FDIC - and on July 30 was contacted by the FDIC that it imposed rare conditions on Investors. Letter here. This ha  been raised on Citizens' application, to the Fed and OCC, below.

On Nov 10, the Federal Reserve asked Citizens questions including "This correspondence relates to the application filed on behalf of Citizens Financial Group, Inc., Providence, Rhode Island (“CFG”), to acquire Investors Bancorp, Inc. (“Investors”), and thereby indirectly acquire its subsidiary bank, Investors Bank, both of Short Hills, New Jersey, pursuant to sections 3(a)(3) and 3(a)(5) of the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, as amended. Based on staff’s review of the current record, the following additional information is requested. Please provide responses to the items in the Confidential Annex. Supporting documentation should be provided, as appropriate. Financial and Managerial  1. Discuss the extent to which CFG and Investors provide any services to marijuana- related businesses (“MRBs”). Discuss any plans contemplated at the pro forma  organization to provide services to MRBs. Discuss any policies and procedures regarding how CFG and Citizens Bank, NA would comply with relevant state laws and the guidance issued by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network related to servicing MRB customers.1 2. Please update all financial and pro forma information presented in the application to reflect September 30, 2021 financial data.  1 See marijuana-related-businesses.  Competition 3. In the response to question 14 of the first additional information request (“AI request”), CFG stated that it would provide the total loan origination amount to small businesses (a business or farm with gross annual revenues of $1 million or less) in 2019 and 2020 associated with each branch CFG acquires from HSBC as soon as such information becomes available. Provide an estimated date by which CFG expects to provide this information. Legal 4. The application states that “Investors Bank also has lending offices in Danbury, Connecticut and Charlotte, North Carolina.” Confirm, if such is the case, that these offices have not been approved as branches and are not operated as branches. Additionally, confirm, if such is the case, that Investors Bank does not operate any branches in Connecticut or North Carolina." Full letter on Patreon here.

November 8, 2021

Fed Qs on Protested Webster Merger As Sterling National Bank Is Sued SDNY For China Wires

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

SOUTH BRONX / SDNY, Nov 5 – The proposed merger of Webster Financial Corp. and Sterling Bancorp has been challenged, on disparate lending and regulatory evasions, first to the Federal Reserve and  the OCC.

  On June 25, the Fed asked the banks a series of questions, below and full letter on Patreon here

  Now Inner City Press can report that on November 5, it was sent a copy of the Federal Reserve's additional letter to Webster and its (ex-Fed) outside counsel: "November 5, 2021 Dear Ms. Patricia A. Robinson, This letter refers to the application filed by Webster Financial Corporation, Waterbury, Connecticut (“Webster”), for the prior approval of the Board of Governors of the Federal  Reserve System (the “Board”), to acquire Sterling Bancorp (“Sterling”), and thereby indirectly  acquire Sterling National Bank. Based on staff’s review of the current record, the following additional information is requested.  Please provide your responses to the items listed below. Supporting documentation should be  provided as appropriate.

1. You have indicated that Sterling Bank and Webster Bank do not have any current plans  to consolidate, relocate or close any branches before consummation of, or otherwise  unrelated to, the proposed transaction. Confirm if that is still the case and confirm that  any anticipated branch closures, consolidations, or relocations that may occur following  the merger will be conducted in a manner consistent with Webster Bank’s branch closing  policies and procedures and the branch closing requirements contained in section 42 of  the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (12 U.S.C. § 1831r-1). If not, discuss why not. Your  response should include a copy of any applicable policies and procedures, to the extent  not already provided.

2. Provide an updated version of the application’s Confidential Exhibit C ‘Balance Sheets,  Income Statements, Regulatory Capital and Asset Quality’. The statements and  information provided should be as of September 30, 2021. Please provide your written response and supporting documentation via E-Apps to Michael Sumrell at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. In addition, in accordance with the  Federal Reserve’s ex parte procedures, provide a copy of the public portion of your response  (together with any attachments) directly to the commenter.
 cc: Inner City Press/Fair Finance Watch"

November 1, 2021

NY Federal Reserve Makes Settlement Secret After It Fired Ex FBI Agent Sama 69 Years Old

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

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 28 – Robert N. Sama, 69, was terminated by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on February 19, 2020. He had worked there since 2007.

He filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on December 10, 2020 - Inner City Press reported it that same day.   And now on October 27, 2021, the move to settle with no transparency, see below.

From the complaint we learn that "each FRS Bank maintains an on-site law enforcement commad called a Law Enforcement Unit."

 Sama was Vice President of the FRBNY's LEU. He had previously been with the FBI for 29 years.  

After Sama's "escorted ejection," his job was given to LEU Captain Ronald Porter, who was "jumped three level" to handle Sama's LEU responsibilities. Here is Sama in a Fed report, as Vice President, Federal Reserve Law Enforcement. Law, indeed.

His complaint has been  assigned to SDNY Judge Valerie E. Caproni, and Magistrate Stewart D. Aaron.

On February 9, the FRBNY filed an answer via an outside law firm, arguing among other things that the SDNY "lacks subject matter jurisdiction," that Sama "failed to mitigate his alleged damages" and that State and City claims are "preempted by federal law."

 Similarly, the Federal Reserve says that the FRBNY and other Reserve Banks are not subject to FOIA. Why then can they approve bank mergers? Inner City Press has FOIA requests pending.

On October 27, amid a scandal about conflicted stock trading by Federal Reserve Bank presidents and others, the FRBNY's outside counsel filed a letter to Judge Caproni that "the parties have reach an agreement to settle this matter and are in the process of finalizing the settlement agreement."

And on October 28, it was nailed down: "ORDER: WHEREAS on October 27, 2021 (Dkt. 28), the parties notified the Court that they have reached an agreement in principle resolving all issues; IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT all previously scheduled conferences and other deadlines are CANCELLED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this case is DISMISSED with prejudice and without costs (including attorneys fees) to either party. The Clerk of Court is respectfully directed to terminate all open motions and to CLOSE the case. Within 30 days of this order, the parties may apply to reopen this case. Any such application must show good cause for holding the case open in light of the parties settlement and must be filed within 30 days. Any request filed after 30 days or without a showing of good cause may be denied solely on that basis. Additionally, if the parties wish for the Court to retain jurisdiction to enforce their settlement agreement, they must submit within the same 30-day period: (1) their settlement agreement to the Court in accordance with Rule 6.A of the Courts Individual Practices and (2) a request that the Court issue an order expressly retaining jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreement. See Hendrickson v. United States, 791 F.3d 354 (2d Cir. 2015). SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Valerie E. Caproni on 10/28/2021)."  But what are the terms of the settlement? If company are pushed to disclose this, how much more so the Fed? Uh, Congress?

The case is Sama v. Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 20-cv-10450 (Caproni)


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October 25, 2021

Horse already out of the barn: "Reserve Bank presidents now will be required to publicly disclose financial transactions within 30 days, as Board Members and senior staff currently do.  The Board and the Reserve Banks will incorporate these new restrictions into the appropriate Federal Reserve rules and policies over the coming months."

October 18, 2021

despite an October 2 request, only on October 15 did the Fed provide the "public portion" of the Stock Yards - Commonwealth application, and even then with portions inappropriately withheld at Stock Yards' request. This is a litmus test that is being failed.

October 11, 2021

For this time Oct 7, 2022, S&P Global, "Politics likely at play in First Citizens, CIT deal delay," by Lauren Seay, "Matthew Lee, executive director of Inner City Press said: "at the Fed under Chair Jay Powell CRA is not given the weight that it should be, so I don't think it's the reason here." The delay may also be an attempt by Powell to "seem more serious on merger review. They send a message if they want to send one by delaying. But what's the point of a message if nobody knows? The ball is in their court to say why," Lee said. here

October 4, 2021

Amid Protest to Fed of Citizens Bid for Investors Bank 2 Reserve Bank Presidents Out 4 Investing

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, Sept 29 – Whether or not the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act will be again enforced until the new Administration and its regulators, particularly the Federal Reserve which already in essence runs the OCC and has its chair position in competition, is an open question.

And now, after reports of trading improprieties that remain unaddressed by the Governors including Chair Jay Powell, Robert Kaplan, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, has resigned, immediately after - and with slightly more transparency than - the Boston Fed's Rosengren. That's not saying much.

  And the proposed acquisition of Investors Bank by Citizens Financial will be litmus test.

September 27, 2021

After CRA Protest of South State's Atlantic Capital Bid Fed Asks Questions & Gives 8 Days

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, Sept 23 – Whether or not the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act will be again enforced until the new Administration and its regulators is an open question.

Now the proposed acquisition by South State of Atlantic Capital Bank in Georgia will be a litmus test. South State is so disparate that in South Carolina in 2020 for mortgage loans to African Americans it had more denials (147) than loans made (133) - while making six loans to whites for every denial to a white applicant.

On August 17, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press on the FOIA) filed a comment with the Federal Reserve Board, below.

On September 4, Fair Finance Watch commented to the Office of the Comptroller Currency, which some say has changed for the better. We'll see - now on September 7, South State has written to Fair Finance Watch, cc-ing the OCC and Fed: "Dear Mr. Lee... In the matter regarding the concerns of the Bank’s disparate marketing, the Bank is committed to providing equal access to credit throughout our footprint. The Bank takes a multi-layered approach to ensure that marketing of credit products reach all communities within the Bank’s Assessment Area and each application is underwritten without consideration of a prohibited basis. The Bank has undergone reviews by independent audit firms with reports dated June 30, 2020 and June 30, 2019 where marketing efforts have been reviewed. The reviews did not yield any fair lending concerns."

Then something is very wrong with those audits.

The Fed briefly extended the comment period - but then on September 23 asked this of South State: "This correspondence relates to the application filed by South State Corporation, Winter Haven, Florida (“South State”), parent of South State Bank, National Association (“South State Bank”), to merge with Atlantic Capital Bancshares, Inc. (“Atlantic Capital”), and thereby acquire its subsidiary, Atlantic Capital Bank, National Association (“Atlantic Capital Bank”), both of Atlanta, Georgia, pursuant to sections 3(a)(3) and 3(a)(5) of the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, as amended (“BHC Act Application”). Please respond in full to the following additional information items, including those listed in the confidential annex, and provide supporting documentation as appropriate.  ASSET QUALITY 1. Provide the following classified asset information, as of June 30, 2021, for South State Bank, Atlantic Capital Bank, and the pro forma institution. a. The amount of internally classified assets, comprised of the separate categories of substandard, doubtful, and loss, with relevant components of other real estate owned separately identified in each category. b. Detail for the calculation of the classified assets ratio, including the level of classified assets compared to the total amount of tier 1 capital and allowance for loan loss reserves.  INTEGRATION RISK 2. Given South State’s significant and recent merger with CenterState Bank Corporation in June 2020, describe the status of integration of the two companies, including whether South State’s key resources have the bandwidth to successfully execute and integrate the proposed merger with Atlantic Capital.  OTHER INFORMATION 3. Clarify whether Atlantic Capital has elected to be treated as a financial holding company under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, as amended. Section 3.1 of the Agreement and Plan of Merger between South State Corporation and Atlantic Capital Bancshares, Inc. indicates that Atlantic Capital has not made this election, while the response to question 1 of the Form FR Y-3 indicates that Atlantic Capital is “a designated financial holding company.” 4. Provide the following: a. Pro forma organizational charts of South State, including South State Bank, following consummation. b. Update on the status of all other agency filings. c. Copy of the Form S-4 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with the proposed transaction.  Request for Additional Information South State Corporation September 23, 2021  Page 2 of 2  Please address your response to Mr. Erien O. Terry and submit within eight business days." But that's after the close of the ("extended") comment period...

As to the Fed, which denies FOIA requests after five months, here, on August 25, this strange response: "Dear Mr. Lee,     This is to acknowledge receipt of your email to the Office of the Secretary for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board) dated August 17, 2021, regarding the proposal of South State Corporation to merge with Atlantic Capital Bancshares, Inc., and thereby indirectly acquire Atlantic Capital Bank, NA.  To date, South State Corporation has not filed an application with the Federal Reserve System.  Currently, the public comment period for the proposal will end on September 20, 2021. 

   If an application is filed within the next three months from the date your comment was sent, your correspondence will be made part of the record, and the Board will evaluate your comment.  We will also send a copy of the public portions of the application as soon as possible after the application is received.     Sincerely,     Jennifer Snow  Senior Examiner  Supervision, Regulation, and Credit  Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta     Integrity. Excellence. Respect."

How can there be a comment period with expiration date, if there is no application? Inner City Press asked, and on August 26 is told:

"Our procedures provide that advance notice in the Federal Register may be requested in advance of a filing. The comment period end date applies to the Federal Register notice, which was filed in advance of the application being filed."

   What - the comment period running to its conclusion, before any application to comment on is available? This seems far too bank-friendly. How does it relate to the administration's Antitrust Memo? Watch this site.

September 20, 2021

Talk about a scam: "By electronic message dated March 10, 2021, and received by IDS on March 11,
you submitted a request seeking:

all records in the possession or control of the FRS, from the past three
years, regarding Wirecard, including but not reference to the bank’s
collapse’s implications for the FRS’ view of German bank regulation
under FBSEA [and] all records the FRS has, in the past three years,
regarding [Gilbert] Armenta, Ruja Ignatova, Mark Scott and/or
OneCoin, and also regarding marijuana banking, central to the case(s).
On August 31, 2021, the Deputy Secretary denied your request for
information. You subsequently appealed that decision and requested expedited
processing of your appeal.1
Pursuant to the Board’s Rules Regarding Availability of Information
(“Board’s Rules”), as a member of the news media you are required to
demonstrate that there is “[a]n urgency to inform the public about an actual or
alleged Federal Government activity[.]”2

In support of your request forexpedited treatment, you allege that “[t]hese are serious criminal issues, and the
Fed would explanation took five months on the initial request, to provide not a
single document[.]” However, you have not set forth facts demonstrating an
urgent need to inform the public of Board activity. Rather, you provided only a
conclusory statement that you believe there are “serious criminal issues.”
Moreover, neither the amount of time the Board took to respond to your initial
request, nor the volume of information provided in response to your request,
has any bearing on whether the records you requested are urgently needed.
Thus, I have determined that your request does not comply with the criteria for
expedited processing because you have not set forth facts demonstrating an
urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Board activity.3
Your request for expedited processing, therefore, is denied without prejudice to
your filing a new request providing additional information that meets the requirements of
the Board’s Rules for expedited processing. Accordingly, your appeal is being processed
under the Board’s normal FOIA procedures."

September 13, 2021

FOIA request acknowledged - but still no records: "Your request has been assigned number APP-2021-00016. Please reference this number in all future correspondence.    Request description:  This is a FOIA appeal of the Deputy Secretary's August 31, 2021 denial in full of my and Inner City Press' March 10, 2021 FOIA request for  "all records in the possession or control of the FRS, from the past three years, regarding Wirecard, including but not reference to the bank’s collapse’s implications for the FRS’ view of German bank regulation under FBSEA [and] all records the FRS has, in the past three years, regarding [Gilbert] Armenta, Ruja Ignatova, Mark Scott and/or OneCoin, and also regarding marijuana banking, central to the case(s)"

September 6, 2021

Federal Reserve on OneCoin & Wirecard FOIA Takes 5 Month to Deny, Inner City Press Appeal

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon FOIA Denial
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras -