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May 10, 2021

Fed does it again: "Dear Mr. Lee: This is in response to your electronic message dated April 3, 2021, and received by the Board’s Information Disclosure Section on April 5, 2021. Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, you request: the entirety of the application by Stock Yards Bancorp to acquire Kentucky Bancshares and Kentucky Bank including all portions for which the applicants have requested confidential treatment, and for all records including electronic records reflecting the FRS’ communications with or about MStock Yards Bancorp or Kentucky Bancshares or either affiliates since January 1, 2020. Given the public comment period here, this request should be expedited such that the records are provided before the comment period ends (for now, April 12). Pursuant to section (a)(6)(B)(i) of the FOIA, we are extending the period for our response until May 17, 2021, in order to consult with two or more components of the Board having a substantial interest in the determination of the request."

 Fed closes comment period April 12, extends FOIA time to May 17....

May 3, 2021

After CRA Protest to M&T People's Fed Asked 32 Qs, As of April 30 No Answers So 2d Protest

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, April 30 – 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 merger of two redlining banks, M&T and People's United, will be the litmus test.

  On March 27, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press on the FOIA filed a challenge with the Federal Reserve to the banks' application, below. We await full response to the FOIA.

  And on April 30, as the Federal Reserve and NYS comment period ostensibly closed, the Fed had STILL not provided the documents under FOIA, despite correctly granting expedited processing. And M&T which was told to send its response to question to Inner City Press, has not -- not by email, and not by regular mail. So Inner City Press has timely written to both regulators to demand that the comment period be extended. Watch this site.

April 26, 2021

While the Fed rubber stamps mergers and closes comment periods, this: "Monday, May 3 ***NEW YORK – Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John Williams speaks before Women in Housing and Finance Virtual Annual Symposium, 1410 EDT/1810 GMT. Via Webinar. Text and moderated Q&A expected." Moderated Q&A;

 Thursday, May 6 ***NEW YORK – Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John Williams gives opening and closing remarks before the New York Fed Web Series on Culture: Purpose and the Employee as Stakeholder, 0900 EDT/1300 GMT. Via Webinar. No text. No Q&A.."

No Q&A.

April 19, 2021

From the Fed:

This is in response to your email message dated April 3, 2021, and received by the Board’s Information Disclosure Section on April 5. Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, you have requested: the entirety of the application by M&T to acquire People’s, including all portions for which the applicants have requested confidential treatment, and for all records including electronic records reflecting the FRS’ communications with or about M&T or People’s since January 1, 2020. You seek expedited processing for your request because you would like to receive the records before the comment period ends. You believe “[t]he merger, the fair lending and money laundering issues and branch closings, make it a matter of urgency.” The Board’s Rules Regarding Availability of Information provide that a requester seeking expedited processing should demonstrate “a compelling need for the records,” and that this need may be evidenced by a statement that “the requester is a representative of the news media . . . and there is urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Board activity.” 12 C.F.R. § 261.12(c).  2  I have determined to grant your request for expedited processing. Accordingly, your request will be accorded priority treatment and processed as soon as practicable.

Good - but where are the documents?

April 12, 2021

From the Fed on April 8:

This is in reference to your email message dated March 10, 2021, and received by the Board’s Information Disclosure Section on March 11.  Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, you request:     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. Inner City Press has been covering the US v. Weigand bank fraud trial in the SDNY, and Wirecard belatedly was raised in a cooperator’s testimony, as was OneCoin money launderer and Tbilisi banker Gilbert Armenta. Therefore, this is also a request for all records the FRS has, in the past three years, regarding Armenta, Ruja Ignatova, Mark Scott and/or OneCoin, and also regarding marijuana banking, central to the case(s).     Pursuant to section (a)(6)(B)(i) of the FOIA, we are extending the period for our response until April 22, 2021, in order to consult with two or more components of the Board having a substantial interest in the determination of the request.     If a determination can be made before April 22, 2021, we will respond to you promptly.  It is our policy to process FOIA requests as quickly as possible while ensuring that we disclose the requested information to the fullest extent of the law.

 April 5, 2021

Filed with the Fed, after a full week of silence:

This is a formal FOIA request for the entirety of the application by M&T to acquire People's, including all portions for which the applicants have requested confidential treatment, and for all records including electronic records reflecting the FRS' communications with or about M&T or People's since January 1, 2020.

Note: in a letter emailed to the Board a full week ago, we requested a portion of these records and of of this date a week later have received no response at all, and no records. Given the public comment period here, this request should be expedited such that the records are provided before the comment period ends (for now, April 30). The merger, the fair lending and money laundering issues and branch closings, make it a matter of urgency.

March 29, 2021

CRA Litmus Test As M&T People's Challenged On Racial Disparities In Lending in NY CT PA

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, March 27 – 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 merger of two redlining banks, M&T and People's United, will be the litmus test.

  On March 27, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press on the FOIA filed a challenge with the Federal Reserve to the banks' application: "This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the FRB's public comment period on the Applications by M&T Bank Corporation to acquire People's United Financial.   

   The applicant M&T in New York State in 2019 made 8,613 home loans to whites and only 629 to African Americans.  M&T in New York State in 2019 made 3.4 loans to whites for each denial to whites. It made only 1.4 loans to African Americans for every denial to African Americans.  

 This is totally unacceptable.       

  The applicant M&T in Connecticut in 2019 made 251 home loans to whites and only 27 to African Americans.  M&T in Connecticut in 2019 made 2 loans to whites for each denial to whites. It made only 1.28 loans to African Americans for every denial to African Americans.    This is unacceptable. 

        The applicant M&T in Pennsylvania in 2019 made 3565 home loans to whites and only 106 to African Americans.

 M&T in Pennsylvania in 2019 made 2.52 loans to whites for each denial to whites. It made only 1.15 loans to African Americans for every denial to African Americans. 

  This is totally unacceptable.

     Meanwhile, People's says it will close some 140 branches.   

    FFW and Inner City Press have been deeply concerned about the rush by the FRS' penchant to rubberstamp mergers by redliners, particularly during the pandemic. We note the Fed's recent website statement that a comment period has been extended to allow participation amid the Coronavirus crisis. This should be done, by the Fed's logic, on this and other applications. We timely request public hearings.  

 The hearings, and your review, should also address M&T's discrimation, see, e.g., (EEOC v. Manufacturers and Traders Trust Co., d/b/a M&T Bank., Civil Action No. 1:16-cv-03180-ELH) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division.  See also, this.

  The comment period should be extended; evidentiary hearings should be held; and on the current record, the application should not be approved.

March 22, 2021

The Federal Reserve doesn't think Wirecard, and the failure of the German regulators atop Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank is a matter of public or urgent concern: "Dear Mr. Lee: This is in reference to your email message dated March 10, 2021, and received by the Board’s Information Disclosure Section on March 11. Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, you request:  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. Inner City Press has been covering the US v. Weigand bank fraud trial in the SDNY, and Wirecard belatedly was raised in a cooperator’s testimony, as was OneCoin money launderer and Tbilisi banker Gilbert Armenta. Therefore, this is also a request for all records the FRS has, in the past three years, regarding Armenta, Ruja Ignatova, Mark Scott and/or OneCoin, and also regarding marijuana banking, central to the case(s). You have requested expedited processing for your request. 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.”1 In support of your request for expedited treatment, you assert that “[t]hese are matters of public interest and urgency[.]” However, you have failed to explain why the information you have requested—approximately three (3) years of Board records—is urgently needed. Thus, I have determined that your request does not comply with the  1 12 C.F.R. § 261.12(c)(1)(i)-(ii).  2  criteria for expedited processing, because you have not set forth facts demonstrating an urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Board activity.2 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 request is being processed under the Board’s normal FOIA procedures." We'll have more on this.

March 15, 2021

Webster Bank Games CRA with Health Savings Accounts Fair Finance Watch Challenged to OCC

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

SDNY COURT, March 13 – Among the comments on the Community Reinvestment Act submitted to the Federal Reserve is one from Webster Bank, arguing that Health Savings Account "deposits should not be considered when determining whether the requirement would apply or when delineating such assessment areas" and should be excluded from the definition of "retail domestic deposits."Consequently, HSAs should also be excluded from  Community Development Financing Metric.

This is scam. 

  Back on May 2, 2020 Fair Finance Watch, and Inner City Press on FOIA, filed a formal challenge with Otting's OCC to the application by Webster Bank to acquire State Farm Bank FSB, its problematic health savings accounts, no less. Here is some of it:

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

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

      This application should be denied. And for the record, the CFPB's elimination of the HMDA information that has been available on the FFIEC's and even its own website for 2017 data is part of the destruction of CRA and HMDA of which the OCC is a part.    

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

 No, that has not been approved. And it should not be. #TreasureCRA. And see NCRC's dashboard of comments, here.

March 8, 2021

Wheels of justice - against tellers, not CEOs: "WHEREAS, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “Board of Governors”), pursuant to section 8(e) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, as amended (the “FDI Act”), 12 U.S.C. § 1818(e), issues this Order of Prohibition (this “Order”) upon the consent of Respondent Jeremy Boles (“Boles”), a former institution-affiliated party, as defined in sections 3(u) and 8(b)(3) of the FDI Act, 12 U.S.C. §§ 1813(u) and 1818(b)(3), of SunTrust Bank (the “Bank”), a state-member bank; WHEREAS, between June 10, 2016, and May 1, 2017, while employed as a Teller Coordinator at the Bank’s Hillsborough Square Branch in Tampa, Florida, Boles misappropriated funds from a Bank customer’s account for his personal benefit; WHEREAS, after the misconduct continued for nearly a year, Boles disclosed his conduct and paid restitution to the Bank in the full amount of the Bank’s loss in May 2017; WHEREAS, Boles’ conduct posed financial, legal and reputational risks to the Bank; WHEREAS, Boles’ conduct constituted violations of law or regulation, unsafe or unsound practices, and breaches of fiduciary duty; and 2 WHEREAS, by affixing his signature hereunder, Boles has consented to the issuance of this Order by the Board of Governors and has agreed to comply with each and every provision of this Order."

March 1, 2021

In CRA Test Challenges To VeraBank Panola Proposal CEO Tidwell Replies Fed Asks More

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, Feb 27 – Whether or not the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act will be again enforced until the new Administration and its regulators is an open questions.

  On the 10th day of the new Administration, Fair Finance Watch with Inner City Press on the FOIA filed comments with the post-Brooks Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and with the Federal Reserve on a proposal by VeraBank of Texas to acquire Panola National Bank.

 The issues include that the applicant VeraBank in Texas in 2019 made 465 home loans to whites and only NINE to African Americans. Its denial rate for African Americans was more than FOUR TIMES than for whites.   

   That is to say, VeraBank in Texas in 2019 made 3.7 loans to whites for each denial to whites. It made less than one - 0.81 - loans to African Americans for every denial to African Americans.

   There is also this: "'In the second round we have seen about half the number of requests that we did in the first round,' said Brad Tidwell, president and CEO of Henderson-based VeraBank."

  To the OCC, the rubber-stamping of mergers by redliners under Brian Brooks and Joseph Otting has been explicitly noted. To the Fed, its logic in extending a recent comment period due to Coronavirus must apply to this and other applications.

  VeraBank CEO Brad Tidwell responded - but sent it only by regular mail, and not email. Now we have it, and it says among other things: "We take the issues that Mr. Lee raised in comment seriously, and we know that VeraBank, like all banks, can improve in extending credit to minority borrowers." Yes. It goes on: "relevant data for the 2019 HMDA reporting period: VeraBank had a 42% denial percentage for African American applicants and a 14% denial percentage for white applicants."

Is this acceptable?

The Fed has asked: "Page 16 of the Y-3 application describes the applicant’s plan to consolidate VeraBank’s branch located at 1708 East End Blvd North, Marshall, TX 75670 into the existing Panola National Bank branch located at 2203 Victory Drive, Marshall, TX 75672. VeraBank’s branch is currently located in a moderate-income/majority-minority census tract (0203.02) and Panola National Bank’s existing branch is currently located in an upper-income/non-majority minority census tract (0203.01). Please provide further information about the applicant’s rationale for consolidating VeraBank’s branch into Panola National Bank’s branch, and VeraBank’s plans to mitigate the impact of the consolidation on the bank’s community in the location to be closed. 2. Please provide an update on VeraBank’s Community Reinvestment Act efforts since the April 27, 2020, Community Reinvestment Act Performance Evaluation."

  The interim response, by email, is not from CEO Tidwell, but rather outside counsel, and says, "Please direct all future correspondence on this application to me."

These are litmus tests. Watch this site.

February 22, 2021

  Update from SDNY: "Sama v. Federal Reserve Bank of New York Case Number:    1:20-cv-10450-VEC Filer:     Document Number:    11 Docket Text: ORDER OF AUTOMATIC REFERRAL TO MEDIATION Mediator to be Assigned by 3/2/2021."

February 15, 2021

NY Federal Reserve Fired Ex FBI Agent Sama Escorted Him Out at 69 Now Cites Preemption

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

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Feb 9 – 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 is reporting it that same day.  

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.