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October 26, 2020

Banco Bradesco Over Inner City Press Protest OKed Now Appeal Not Shown To Fed Board

By Matthew R. Lee, Exclusive

SOUTH BRONX, Oct 20 – Amid escalating attacks on the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch back in August filed comments under the CRA opposing Banco Bradesco's application to acquire BAC Florida, see below.

 Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, it has continued to appear that the Federal Reserve is churning forward to try to rubber stamp a bank merger. On April 7 the Fed asked Banco Bradesco's New York law firm to supplement the record with how it is dealing with current economic situation. On April 24 the bank's law firm Shearman & Sterling sent an answer to the Fed - with the entire Covid section, as sent as required to Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press, entirely redacted. Inner City Press FOIA-ed that, then was asked to narrow the request.

 So S&S submitted another filing, with even the name of the exhibits redacted. As of June 7, the Fed simply extended its time to reply.

 On October 7 the Federal Reserve rubber stamped the troubled and troubling merger, stating in part that "A commenter objected to the proposal and alleged disparities in the number of home purchase loans made by BAC Bank to African Americans and Hispanics, as compared to Asians, in the New York City Metropolitan Statistical Area (“New York City MSA”), based on data that BAC Bank reported under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975 (“HMDA”) for its 2017 mortgage-related lending activities. 29 In  27 12 U.S.C. § 2903. 28 Bradesco’s New York branch is not authorized to take insured deposits and is not subject to the CRA. 29 12 U.S.C. § 2801 et seq. - 12 - addition, the commenter asserted that BAC Bank denied 100 percent of home purchase applications from Hispanics in the New York City MSA based on the bank’s 2017 HMDA data. The commenter also alleged disparities in the number of home purchase loans made by BAC Bank to African Americans as compared to Whites in the Miami, Florida MSA, based on 2017 HMDA data. Furthermore, the commenter alleged that the proposal does not have a public benefit, including under the CRA, and that Bradesco plans to acquire BAC Bank to disproportionately serve affluent clients. BAC Bank’s Business and Applicants’ Response to the Public Comments BAC Bank offers a variety of products and services in the areas of personal banking, wealth management, corporate banking, institutional banking, and real estate financing. BAC Bank serves domestic and international customers, and, as previously noted, the bank’s sole deposit-taking office is located in Florida. In response to the public comments, Bradesco asserts that the fair lending and CRA records of BAC Bank do not support a conclusion that the bank has engaged in improper lending practices." Yeah.

 So on October 15, we filed a timely request for reconsideration: "Re: Timely Request for Reconsideration of FRB approval, with information about COVID-19 Impacts withheld and BAC lending record ignored, of Banco Bradesco to acquire BAC Florida  Dear Chair Powell"   This is a timely request for reconsideration of the above-captioned application. As you may know, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch timely opposed the application on CRA and then other grounds, including the need to publicly disclose the financial irregularities of Banco Bradesco and the impact of COVID-19 on this proposed transaction.      All of these records were withheld, and BAC's CRA and fair lending records was ignored, to deliver up an approval on the applicant's timeline. This "servicing" of the industry cannot continue on this timely request, which the full Board should consider at an in person meeting.    As we stated in August 2019, this is a proposal by a bank in Brazil where authorities are reviewing the bank for corruption, to buy a US bank with a disparate lending record in order to use it to serve disproportionately the affluent. There is no public benefit; the application should be denied...  We submitted a FOIA request for all of the redacted information - in fact, it should have been provided forthwith under the Ex Parte Rules. But it never was."

  On October 20 Inner City Press got a voice mail then an email stating that the request for reconsideration had not even gone to the insulated Board members (two seats are vacant), but was denied by the Fed's General Counsel. We'll have more on this.

October 19, 2020

Banco Bradesco Over Inner City Press Protest Rubber Stamped So Filing to Federal Reserve

By Matthew R. Lee, Exclusive

SOUTH BRONX, Oct 15 – Amid escalating attacks on the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch back in August filed comments under the CRA opposing Banco Bradesco's application to acquire BAC Florida, see below.

 Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, it has continued to appear that the Federal Reserve is churning forward to try to rubber stamp a bank merger. On April 7 the Fed asked Banco Bradesco's New York law firm to supplement the record with how it is dealing with current economic situation. On April 24 the bank's law firm Shearman & Sterling sent an answer to the Fed - with the entire Covid section, as sent as required to Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press, entirely redacted. Inner City Press FOIA-ed that, then was asked to narrow the request.

 So S&S submitted another filing, with even the name of the exhibits redacted. As of June 7, the Fed simply extended its time to reply.

 Now on October 7 the Federal Reserve has rubber stamped the troubled and troubling merger, stating in part that "A commenter objected to the proposal and alleged disparities in the number of home purchase loans made by BAC Bank to African Americans and Hispanics, as compared to Asians, in the New York City Metropolitan Statistical Area (“New York City MSA”), based on data that BAC Bank reported under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975 (“HMDA”) for its 2017 mortgage-related lending activities. 29 In  27 12 U.S.C. § 2903. 28 Bradesco’s New York branch is not authorized to take insured deposits and is not subject to the CRA. 29 12 U.S.C. § 2801 et seq. - 12 - addition, the commenter asserted that BAC Bank denied 100 percent of home purchase applications from Hispanics in the New York City MSA based on the bank’s 2017 HMDA data. The commenter also alleged disparities in the number of home purchase loans made by BAC Bank to African Americans as compared to Whites in the Miami, Florida MSA, based on 2017 HMDA data. Furthermore, the commenter alleged that the proposal does not have a public benefit, including under the CRA, and that Bradesco plans to acquire BAC Bank to disproportionately serve affluent clients. BAC Bank’s Business and Applicants’ Response to the Public Comments BAC Bank offers a variety of products and services in the areas of personal banking, wealth management, corporate banking, institutional banking, and real estate financing. BAC Bank serves domestic and international customers, and, as previously noted, the bank’s sole deposit-taking office is located in Florida. In response to the public comments, Bradesco asserts that the fair lending and CRA records of BAC Bank do not support a conclusion that the bank has engaged in improper lending practices." Yeah.

 Now on October 15, we have filed this timely request for reconsideration: "Re: Timely Request for Reconsideration of FRB approval, with information about COVID-19 Impacts withheld and BAC lending record ignored, of Banco Bradesco to acquire BAC Florida  Dear Chair Powell"   This is a timely request for reconsideration of the above-captioned application. As you may know, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch timely opposed the application on CRA and then other grounds, including the need to publicly disclose the financial irregularities of Banco Bradesco and the impact of COVID-19 on this proposed transaction.      All of these records were withheld, and BAC's CRA and fair lending records was ignored, to deliver up an approval on the applicant's timeline. This "servicing" of the industry cannot continue on this timely request, which the full Board should consider at an in person meeting.    As we stated in August 2019, this is a proposal by a bank in Brazil where authorities are reviewing the bank for corruption, to buy a US bank with a disparate lending record in order to use it to serve disproportionately the affluent. There is no public benefit; the application should be denied...  We submitted a FOIA request for all of the redacted information - in fact, it should have been provided forthwith under the Ex Parte Rules. But it never was." We'll have more on this.

October 12, 2020

Federal Reserve Banco Bradesco Q&A After Inner City Press Protest Leads To Rubber Stamp

By Matthew R. Lee, Exclusive

SOUTH BRONX, SDNY, Oct 7 – Amid escalating attacks on the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch back in August filed comments under the CRA opposing Banco Bradesco's application to acquire BAC Florida, see below.

 Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, it has continued to appear that the Federal Reserve is churning forward to try to rubber stamp a bank merger. On April 7 the Fed asked Banco Bradesco's New York law firm to supplement the record with how it is dealing with current economic situation. On April 24 the bank's law firm Shearman & Sterling sent an answer to the Fed - with the entire Covid section, as sent as required to Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press, entirely redacted. Inner City Press FOIA-ed that, then was asked to narrow the request.

 So S&S submitted another filing, with even the name of the exhibits redacted. As of June 7, the Fed simply extended its time to reply.

 Now on October 7 the Federal Reserve has rubber stamped the troubled and troubling merger, stating in part that "A commenter objected to the proposal and alleged disparities in the number of home purchase loans made by BAC Bank to African Americans and Hispanics, as compared to Asians, in the New York City Metropolitan Statistical Area (“New York City MSA”), based on data that BAC Bank reported under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975 (“HMDA”) for its 2017 mortgage-related lending activities. 29 In  27 12 U.S.C. § 2903. 28 Bradesco’s New York branch is not authorized to take insured deposits and is not subject to the CRA. 29 12 U.S.C. § 2801 et seq. - 12 - addition, the commenter asserted that BAC Bank denied 100 percent of home purchase applications from Hispanics in the New York City MSA based on the bank’s 2017 HMDA data. The commenter also alleged disparities in the number of home purchase loans made by BAC Bank to African Americans as compared to Whites in the Miami, Florida MSA, based on 2017 HMDA data. Furthermore, the commenter alleged that the proposal does not have a public benefit, including under the CRA, and that Bradesco plans to acquire BAC Bank to disproportionately serve affluent clients. BAC Bank’s Business and Applicants’ Response to the Public Comments BAC Bank offers a variety of products and services in the areas of personal banking, wealth management, corporate banking, institutional banking, and real estate financing. BAC Bank serves domestic and international customers, and, as previously noted, the bank’s sole deposit-taking office is located in Florida. In response to the public comments, Bradesco asserts that the fair lending and CRA records of BAC Bank do not support a conclusion that the bank has engaged in improper lending practices." Yeah. We'll have more on this.

October 5, 2020

Fed Inaction As Amid PPP Abuse Lenders Like Live Oak Bank Issue Prurient Denial To Inner City Press Data Q

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

SDNY COURT / SOUTH BRONX, Oct 1 –     Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, fair lending and the Community Reinvestment Act are taking a back seat, or worse. Some banks to which CRA applies are excluding smaller businesses and those in communities of color. And some banks bragging about the PPP loans won't provide any information - we are Pressing.

   Inner City Press / Community on the Move has begun contacting both banks and non-banks for their Paycheck Protection Program data. Without yet getting into the full results, note that Inner City Press asked Live Oak Bank, twice: "On behalf of Inner City Press / Community on the Move and its Fair Finance Watch project, and in my personal capacity, this is a formal request for Live Oak's full CRA Public File and pressingly for the following with regard to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for this information:  1. How many loans has Live Oak made pursuant to the programs?  2. What is the total dollar amount of loans made pursuant to the program  3. What is the average loan size? ... 9. What percentage of your PPP loans are to borrowers with a previous borrowing relationship with your institution?"

  Their SVP for communications sent only the CRA file, performance evaluation and strategic plan - no date. Now after months of non response on data by Live Oak Bank, on October 1 came this:

"Thank you for your interest in Live Oak Bank Based on your responses, our loan programs are not a fit for your business at this time. Some of the most common reasons for this are listed below:   Loan amount is below our minimum   Business is not based in the United States   FICO credit score does not meet our minimum requirements   Prior bankruptcy   Prior loss to creditors or government   Pending legal action   Presently suspended, debarred, proposed for debarment, declared ineligible or voluntarily excluded from participation in this transaction by any Federal department or agency   Revenues derived from gambling, loan packaging, or from the sale of products or services, or the presentation of any depiction, displays or live performances, of a prurient sexual nature."
Oh really... We'll have more on this.

Meanwhile the Fed is pushing forward to approve bank merger applications, like Banco Bradesco - BAC which Fair Finance Watch has been opposing

September 28, 2020

  So how did the Federal Reserve keep rubber stamping for the banks now being exposed for failing to asked on FinCen SARs? We'll have more on this.

September 21, 2020

  What a scam: now Banco Bradesco, in a response they want partial withheld, argues that its "pecuniary contribution" in Brazil is not really a fine. Really?

September 14, 2020

Why doesn't the Federal Reserve's OMWI report address the way the Fed's work impact, and often short changes, communities of color and minority and women owned businesses? We'll have more on this. https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/March-2020-Report-to-the-Congress-on-the-Office-of-Minority-and-Women-Inclusion.htm

September 7, 2020

Federal Reserve Amid Covid Asks Banco Bradesco of BCB Fine cc Fair Finance Watch

By Matthew R. Lee, Exclusive

SOUTH BRONX, SDNY, Sept 4 – Amid escalating attacks on the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch back in August filed comments under the CRA opposing Banco Bradesco's application to acquire BAC Florida, see below.

 Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, it has continued to appear that the Federal Reserve is churning forward to try to rubber stamp a bank merger. On April 7 the Fed asked Banco Bradesco's New York law firm to supplement the record with how it is dealing with current economic situation. On April 24 the bank's law firm Shearman & Sterling sent an answer to the Fed - with the entire Covid section, as sent as required to Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press, entirely redacted. Inner City Press FOIA-ed that, then was asked to narrow the request.

 So S&S submitted another filing, with even the name of the exhibits redacted. As of June 7, the Fed has simply extended its time to reply.

  Next the Fed telephoned Bradesco to ask about the impact of the US travel ban on Brazil on the proposed transaction and integration. The question was not conveyed to Inner City Press until Bradesco's entirely redacted answer. This is Orwellian. Inner City Press has written to the Fed: "This is a FOIA request for the all withheld portions of the additional information submitted by Banco Bradesco on or about May 29, 2020 as part of its challenged but still being processed amid the COVID-19 pandemic to aquire BAC including but not limited to the redaction of the entire answer to the Fed's telephonic question (not otherwise provided to ICP) about the effect of the travel ban on Brazil on the proposed transaction. This follows up on our previous and still outstanding FOIA request which we voluntarily narrowed on April 30 in response to the inquiry by Katrina Allen-Austin of the Legal Division dated the same date and the FOIA after that. Note: processing of this application should be suspended until COVID-19 restrictions, which continue in New York after June 8, are lifted."

  Now on September 4, the Fed has asked this: "We refer to the application filed on behalf of Banco Bradesco, S.A., Lecce Holdings S.A., Fundação Bradesco, BBD Participações S.A., Nova Cidade de Deus Participações S.A., and Cidade de Deus Cia. Commercial de Participações, (“Bradesco”) all of Osasco, São Paulo, Brazil, to become bank holding companies by acquiring substantially all of the shares of BAC Florida Bank, Coral Gables, Florida, pursuant to Section 3 of the Bank Holding Company Act, as amended (“BHC Act”).  Based on our review of the current record, we request the following additional information. Please also respond to the questions in the Confidential Annex. Supporting documentation should be provided, as appropriate.  1. Describe any situations in which the Central Bank of Brazil (“BCB”) has imposed fines  higher than the contribution payment made by Bradesco under the Termo De Compromisso (“Termo”) with the BCB on May 29, 2020.  2. Please confirm whether any of the transactions or activity addressed in the Termo relate  to USD transactions transmitted through financial institutions in the United States.  Please provide your response addressed to the undersigned within 8 business days of the date of this letter. Any information for which confidential treatment is desired should be so labeled and separately bound in accordance with Section 261.15 of the Board's Rules Regarding Availability of Information. 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." Watch this site.

 Fair Finance Watch is proposing a CRA requirement on all Payroll Protection Program lenders - all of them - and raised this to Congressional leadership. #TreasureCRA. Watch this site.

August 31, 2020

  So the Fed correctly sent to the board a challenged application by First Illinois Bancorp - while on a policy setting sell-out application by Varo, it confined it at Federal Banks of SF to rubber stamp. This is a scam.

August 24, 2020

At the Federal Reserve, FOIA appeals used to be handled by a Governor, for a time, Governor Powell. Now it's just one staff member rubber stemping the withholdings of another: Inner City Press this week got this: "Based on a de novo review of the Deputy Secretary’s decision, and upon the recommendation of counsel regarding the legal issues involved, I affirm the Deputy 2 See 5 U.S.C. §§ 552(b)(1)-(9). 3 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(4). 4 Food Mktg. Inst. v. Argus Leader Media, 139 S. Ct. 2356, 2366 (2019).  3  Secretary’s decision to withhold information contained in Banco Bradesco’s May 29 response to an additional information request from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Board, pursuant to exemption 4. If you believe that the Board is withholding information from you contrary to your legal rights, you may seek judicial review of my decision in an appropriate United States District Court pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B). Additionally, if you have any questions regarding the processing of your request, you may contact the Board’s FOIA Public Liaison, Ms. Candace Ambrose, at 202-452-3684 for assistance.5  Sincerely, (Signed) Ann E. Misback Ann E. Misback Secretary of the Board."

August 17, 2020

The regulators, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, have shown a willingness to rubber stamp applications including the Federal Reserve on a "delegate" / approval-only basis as they did with Varo's application to become a bank holding company.   Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch immediately wrote in appeal to the Board - and still no answer...

August 10, 2020

Federal Reserve Rubber Stamp of Varo Bank Protested to Chair Powell Collusion With OCC

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

South Bronx, Aug 3 –  How corrupt has the Federal Reserve become using the COVID-19 pandemic as ground cover? Well, despite rules that substantively challenged applications can only be approved by the Board of Governors in DC, on July 28 the Fed rubber stamped on a delegated basis fintech Varo's application to form a bank holding company. It is an unprecedented now low - but happens while the Federal Reserve withholds under FOIA all information about the impact of COVID-19 on the application by Brazil-based Banco Bradesco. Something has gone dreadfully wrong on C St.

  Here's the Fed's - Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco's - July 28 letter, sent to Inner City Press: "Dear Mr. Walsh: The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (“Reserve Bank”), acting under authority delegated by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (“Board”), and having considered the relevant statutory factors, hereby approves the subject application. In consideration of this filing, reliance was placed upon all the representations and the commitments made by or on behalf of Bancorp. No significant changes in the transaction should be made prior to consummation without our approval. Approval of the application is subject to the Board’s authority to require reports by and make inspections and examinations of BHCs and their subsidiaries, and to require such modification or termination of activities of a holding company or any of its subsidiaries as the Board finds necessary to ensure compliance with the BHC Act. Approval of the application is also subject to receipt of all other required regulatory approvals, non-objections, or consents with this transaction. The proposed transaction may be consummated upon approval. 1 Please notify the undersigned in writing when the transaction is consummated."

 Then the FRBSF wrote to Inner City Press saying it had five days until August 3 at 5 pm PST to request review. We have: "On behalf of Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch and in my personal capacity, this is questionlessly timely request for review of the FRBSF's unprecedented and shamefully rubber stamping on delegated authority - which authority is ONLY to approval - of the application by Varo to get into banking (through the OCC), renewed complaint about the FRB's failure update its H2A, its continued processing and rubber-stamping of expansion applications amid the COVID-19 pandemic and on the withholding of HMDA data in online form by CFPB and other FFIEC regulators including the FRB - and a demand for actions.    On June 10 Inner City Press submitted to the Board a timely comment. We heard nothing bank - no Additional Information letter to Varo, no request to us for information - until receiving first a copy of the FRBSF's approval, then a letter which did not even mention most of the issues we raised to the Board in June. We wrote to the Board because we have no confidence at all in the FRBSF, which did not purport to explain the withholding of information from the public nor its craven rubber stamping to go along with the OCC, during pandemic lockdown no less.    We immediately wrote back to the FRBSF, again with no response: This is to confirm receipt of your letter - and to immediately inform you of Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch's outrage that this important application was rubber stamped on a delegated basis by a Reserve Bank which can only approve. This is a new low -- applications by much smaller institutions, raising many fewer issues, are sent to the Board of Governors for decision. This is a major mistake - we will be pursuing it, and urge that there be no consummation of this illegitimate delegated rubber-stamp.     The FRB has coordinated its timing with the OCC of Brian Brooks, who has numerous conflicts of interest in the fintech field.    The FRBSF has become not a regulator, but a cheerleader. As to Varo, consider for example their service interruption in October 2019, including declined debit card transactions, which they tried to blame on their processor Galileo... More fundamentally, consider weakened CRA duties, and disproportionate exclusion: low and moderate consumers disproportionately have prepaid or limited data plans and face disconnections of their mobile service. And just because consumers have email addresses does not mean that they have regular internet access, and if they close or move their accounts, they may lose access to their financial records. We requested and request hearings. .This shameful delegated authority approval by the FRBSF timed to collude with the OCC with its conflicts of interest must be rescinded." Watch this site.

August 3, 2020

Federal Reserve Rubber Stamps Varo Into Banking On Delegated Basis As Denies FOIAs

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

South Bronx, July 28–  How corrupt has the Federal Reserve become using the COVID-19 pandemic as ground cover? Well, despite rules that substantively challenged applications can only be approved by the Board of Governors in DC, on July 28 the Fed rubber stamped on a delegated basis fintech Varo's application to form a bank holding company. It is an unprecedented now low - but happens while the Federal Reserve withholds under FOIA all information about the impact of COVID-19 on the application by Brazil-based Banco Bradesco. Something has gone dreadfully wrong on C St.

  Here's the Fed's - Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco's - July 28 letter, sent to Inner City Press: "July 28, 2020 Via Electronic Mail Mr. Colin Walsh Varo Money, Inc. 222 Kearny Street, 9th Floor San Francisco, California 94108 RE: Varo Money, Inc., San Francisco, California (“Bancorp”), to become a bank holding company (“BHC”) through the acquisition of 100 percent of the voting shares of Varo Bank, N.A. (In Organization), Draper, Utah, pursuant to Section 3(a)(1) of the Bank Holding Company Act (“BHC Act”) Dear Mr. Walsh: The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (“Reserve Bank”), acting under authority delegated by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (“Board”), and having considered the relevant statutory factors, hereby approves the subject application. In consideration of this filing, reliance was placed upon all the representations and the commitments made by or on behalf of Bancorp. No significant changes in the transaction should be made prior to consummation without our approval. Approval of the application is subject to the Board’s authority to require reports by and make inspections and examinations of BHCs and their subsidiaries, and to require such modification or termination of activities of a holding company or any of its subsidiaries as the Board finds necessary to ensure compliance with the BHC Act. Approval of the application is also subject to receipt of all other required regulatory approvals, non-objections, or consents with this transaction. The proposed transaction may be consummated upon approval. 1 Please notify the undersigned in writing when the transaction is consummated."

  Corrupt.

July 27, 2020

Filed with the Fed: "This is a FOIA appeal of the Deputy Secretary's July 17 denial in full of my and Inner City Press' June 7 FOIA request for the withheld portions of the additional information submitted by Banco Bradesco on or about May 29, 2020 as part of its challenged but still being processed amid the COVID-19 pandemic to aquire BAC including but not limited to the redaction of the entire answer to the Fed's telephonic question (not otherwise provided to ICP) about the effect of the travel ban on Brazil on the proposed transaction.    It is an outrage that every single word in this bank's response about this PUBLIC HEALTH emergency is being withheld by the Federal Reserve.  Note: processing of this application should be suspended until COVID-19 restrictions, which continue in New York, are lifted."
July 20, 2020

It took the Fed SIX WEEKS to issue this denial in full: "This is in response to your email message dated June 7, 2020, received by the Board’s Information Disclosure Section on June 8. Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, you request:  all withheld portions of the additional information submitted by Banco Bradesco on or about May 29, 2020 as part of its challenged but still being processed amid the COVID-19 pandemic to aquire [sic] BAC including but not limited to the redaction of the entire answer to the Fed’s telephonic question (not otherwise provided to ICP) about the effect of the travel ban on Brazil on the proposed transaction. Staff searched Board records and located information that is responsive to your request. I have determined, however, that the redacted portions of the May 29 letter and the confidential exhibits consist of confidential commercial and financial information (e.g., business plans and strategies; financial statements). This information is subject to withholding and will be withheld from you pursuant to exemption 4 of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(4). I have also determined that the information should be withheld because it is reasonably foreseeable that disclosure would harm an interest protected by an exemption described in subsection (b) of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b). The responsive documents have been reviewed under the requirements of subsection (b) and all reasonably segregable nonexempt information will be provided to you. The document being provided to you will indicate the amount of information that has been withheld and the applicable exemption. In addition, approximately 30 pages of information will be withheld from you in their entirety.  2  Accordingly, your request for the withheld portions of Banco Bredesco’s May 29 submission is denied in full for the reason cited above."

July 13, 2020

The Fed asks for more time - so it can't just rubber stamp for Bradesco, can they? "FOIA Request No. F-2020-00240     Dear Mr. Lee:     On June 8, 2020, the Board of Governors (“Board”) received your correspondence dated June 7, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, for, “all withheld portions of the additional information submitted by Banco Bradesco on or about May 29, 2020[.]”     Pursuant to section (a)(6)(B)(i) of the FOIA, we are extending the period for our response until July 20, 2020, 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 July 20, 2020, 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."

July 6, 2020

From the Federal Reserve: "Barclays Bank PLC, London, England and Barclays Bank PLC New York Branch, New York, New York Cease and Desist Order, dated May 20, 2015 Terminated June 25, 2020" - but not announced until a full week later on July 2 - why?

June 29, 2020

From the Fed, after a long day, this: "Staff searched Board records and located the letter dated April 24 that is responsive to the first part of your request. I have determined, however, that the redacted portions of the letter contain confidential commercial and financial information (e.g., pro forma financials; projected asset quality and capital ratios; and business plans and strategies). This information is subject to withholding and will be withheld from you pursuant to exemption 4 of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(4). I have also determined that the information should be withheld because it is reasonably foreseeable that disclosure would harm an interest protected by an exemption described in subsection (b) of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b). The responsive document has been reviewed under the requirements of subsection (b) and all reasonably segregable nonexempt information will be provided to you. The document being provided to you will indicate the amount of information that has been withheld and the applicable exemption." All information about the impact o COVID-19 redacted. UNacceptable.

June 22, 2020

Varo Dodges on CRA and Covid Outage When Challenged on Federal Reserve Application For Banking

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

South Bronx, June 15 –  With fintechs pushing to get into banking, through now ex-Comptroller Joseph Otting who after trashing the Community Reinvestment Act left and immediately joined fintech Black Knight, and through the PPP, on June 10 Fair Finance Watch with Inner City Press on FOIA submitted timely comments to the Federal Reserve opposing Varo's application, pointing for example at Varo's service interruption in October 2019, including declined debit card transactions, which they tried to blame on their processor Galileo. See here. 

  Now on June 15 Varo's CEO Colin Walsh, as submitted by outside counsel Mitchell S. Eitel at Sullivan & Cromwell has passed the buck again on its service disruption, and sought to hide behind the OCC of Otting and Brooks, which has no credibility: "Varo Money, Inc. (“Varo”) hereby responds to the comment letter submitted by Mr. Matthew Lee of Inner City Press/Fair Finance Watch (the “Commenter”) on June 10, 2020... We strongly disagree with the Commenter’s suggestion that Varo itself was the cause of a “service interruption in October 2019, which [Varo] tried to blame on [Varo’s] processor Galileo.” On October 16, 2019, Galileo Processing experienced an impact to their systems, and it was reported that the customers of Chime, another Galileo client principally discussed in the article cited by the Commenter, were prevented “from making purchases and accessing cash"... we note that as it transitions to a bank, Varo Bank will use Visa DPS, not Galileo, as its processor after a brief transition period.... Varo has filed its Strategic Plan with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and believes that it will be approved in the near future. Varo respectfully submits that the OCC process is the ap- propriate forum for his comments.   Finally, with respect to the Commenter’s request that “all comment periods” for applications before the Federal Reserve be extended until “at least Phase Two of the Coronavirus restrictions in New York”, Section 262.25(b)(2) of the Federal Reserve’s Rules of Procedure state that the Secretary of the Federal Re- serve may grant a brief extension of the comment period in cases where a commenter for good cause is una- ble to send its comment within the specified comment period upon “clear demonstration of hardship or other meritorious reason for seeking additional time” to comment. In general and as it relates to Varo’s Application, we believe that the Commenter’s request is overly broad and that there is no basis to extend the com- ment period. The Comment Letter vaguely references the “COVID-19 pandemic” and “Coronavirus restrictions” without providing any clear or definite demonstration as to how such pandemic or restrictions have interfered with the Commenter’s ability to meet the specified comment period or given rise to any hardship to Commenter or other meritorious reason to extend the comment period, or how the arbitrarily chosen “Phase Two” of such restrictions would alleviate any such unsubstantiated causes for delay. To the contrary, by virtue of the scope and content of the Comment Letter itself, the Commenter has clearly demonstrated his ability to comment within the specified comment period."

   What arrogance - commenting amid lockdowns is fine, the OCC is the place to comment, and blockage from account information is fine. The evidentiary hearings and application denial are necessary.

June 15, 2020

Varo Challenged on Federal Reserve Application For Banking After Service Outage and CRA Dodge

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

SDNY / South Bronx, June 10 –  With fintechs pushing to get into banking, through now ex-Comptroller Joseph Otting who after trashing the Community Reinvestment Act left and immediately joined fintech Black Knight, and through the PPP, on June 10 Fair Finance Watch with Inner City Press on FOIA submitted timely comments to the Federal Reserve opposing Varo's application, pointing for example at Varo's service interruption in October 2019, including declined debit card transactions, which they tried to blame on their processor Galileo. See here. 

        Fair Finance Watch has timely asked the Federal Reserve for a hearing on weakened CRA duties, and disproportionate exclusion: low and moderate consumers disproportionately have prepaid or limited data plans and face disconnections of their mobile service. And just because consumers have email addresses does not mean that they have regular internet access, and if they close or move their accounts, they may lose access to their financial records.    

Despite or perhaps because of these and the service interruptions, using OCC deregulation, "Varo Money has raised an additional $241 million in Series D funding, the company announced today. The investment was co-led by new investor Gallatin Point Capital and existing investor The Rise Fund, co-founded by TPG. Also participating in the round were Bono (yes, that one, also trying to get Ireland onto the UN Security Council in a June 17 virtual election), along with entrepreneur, impact investor and movie producer Jeff Skoll; plus HarbourVest Partners and Progressive Insurance.  To date, Varo has raised $419.4 million in funding."      

See also, for the record on which Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch are timely requesting evidentiary hearings on this application, " NEWS Technology Finance  Unregulated Fintech Could be the Source of the Next Market Crash Posted to TechnologyFinance."   

     At to the Fed itself, currently the FRB's H2A states "The H.2A is released each Friday and will be updated at least every three days.  June 8, 2020 - Updates to current release May 29, 2020 - Current release."

June 8 and May 29 are more than three - more than ten - days apart.  As previously raised to the Board, without any response, as of December 28, 2019 the most recent application on the FRB's online H2A had a comment period ending December 20 - that is, already closed.

      Meanwhile the Fed is processing and moving to rubber stamp bank expansion applications during the COVID-19 pandemic. The comment periods must be re-opened and other remedies. Watch this site.

June 8, 2020

Federal Reserve Amid Covid Lets Banco Bradesco Go Secret On Travel Ban As Fair Finance Watch Says No

By Matthew R. Lee, Exclusive

SOUTH BRONX, SDNY, June 7 – Amid escalating attacks on the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch back in August filed comments under the CRA opposing Banco Bradesco's application to acquire BAC Florida, see below.

 Now amid the Coronavirus pandemic, it continues to appear that the Federal Reserve is churning forward to try to rubber stamp a bank merger. On April 7 the Fed asked Banco Bradesco's New York law firm to supplement the record with how it is dealing with current economic situation. On April 24 the bank's law firm Shearman & Sterling sent an answer to the Fed - with the entire Covid section, as sent as required to Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press, entirely redacted. Inner City Press FOIA-ed that, then was asked to narrow the request.

 So S&S submitted another filing, with even the name of the exhibits redacted. As of June 7, the Fed has simply extended its time to reply.

  Next the Fed telephoned Bradesco to ask about the impact of the US travel ban on Brazil on the proposed transaction and integration. The question was not conveyed to Inner City Press until Bradesco's entirely redacted answer. This is Orwellian. Inner City Press has written to the Fed: "This is a FOIA request for the all withheld portions of the additional information submitted by Banco Bradesco on or about May 29, 2020 as part of its challenged but still being processed amid the COVID-19 pandemic to aquire BAC including but not limited to the redaction of the entire answer to the Fed's telephonic question (not otherwise provided to ICP) about the effect of the travel ban on Brazil on the proposed transaction. This follows up on our previous and still outstanding FOIA request which we voluntarily narrowed on April 30 in response to the inquiry by Katrina Allen-Austin of the Legal Division dated the same date and the FOIA after that. Note: processing of this application should be suspended until COVID-19 restrictions, which continue in New York after June 8, are lifted." Watch this site.

 Fair Finance Watch is proposing a CRA requirement on all Payroll Protection Program lenders - all of them - and raised this to Congressional leadership. #TreasureCRA. Watch this site.