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April 22, 2024

Capital One Should Discover Merger Dead Inner City Press FOIAed Fed Now Delay to May 3

by Matthew R. Lee

SOUTH BRONX, April 19 – Capital One has applied to buy Discover, in an anticompetitive deal that should be rejected by regulators if they mean what they have been saying. While they applied late March 20, as of 1 pm on March 22 there was no notice of the Federal Reserve's or OCC's websites. Inner City Press submitted second FOIA requests to each agency. Public hearings should be held, not only on antitrust but also lending disparities at both companies. 

  While the OCC has yet to provide some records requested under FOIA, it put its application in its reading room. And it is an outrage, Capital One gaming the CRA system. For example "the Proposed Transaction would result in CONA establishing a new assessment area in  Delaware, which will include all census tracts in Sussex County and seven contiguous census  tracts in Kent County."

That for a nationwide card and subprime auto lender...

On April 19, with the Fed's comment period coming to a close, the Fed wrote to extended its time to respond to Inner City Press' February 19 FOIA to May 3 - AFTER the close of the comment period.

 As documented by Fair Finance Watch, Discover Bank in 2022 denied mortgage loans application from African Americans more than twice as frequently as those of whites. 

  Previously, Inner City Press and NCRC challenged Capital One's acquisition of ING Direct, see here.This time, given the antitrust enforcement claims being made in DC, this proposal should be dead in the water. Watch this site.

April 15, 2024

Fair lending be damned? On April 11, 2024, the Fed hauled off and approved, noting Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch "objected to the proposal, alleging that in 2021, Provident Bank and Lakeland Bank made no home loans to African American individuals in New York State.30 30  The data cited by the commenter corresponds to publicly available 2021 data by Provident Bank and Lakeland Bank under HMDA. Following consummation of the proposed transaction, the combined organization will add to its assessment area Bronx and Kings counties, each of which includes a significant number of majority-minority and LMI communities... The Board also has considered the DOJ Consent Order, including Lakeland Bank’s efforts towards meeting its obligations under the DOJ Consent Order, and that the DOJ Consent Order binds Provident without further action by the Board." We'll see.

April 8, 2024

Capital One Should Discover Merger Dead As Inner City Press FOIAs Fed Barr Talks Basel 3

by Matthew R. Lee

SOUTH BRONX, April 3 – Capital One has applied to buy Discover, in an anticompetitive deal that should be rejected by regulators if they mean what they have been saying. While they applied late March 20, as of 1 pm on March 22 there was no notice of the Federal Reserve's or OCC's websites. Inner City Press submitted second FOIA requests to each agency. Public hearings should be held, not only on antitrust but also lending disparities at both companies. 

  While the OCC has yet to provide some records requested under FOIA, it put its application in its reading room. And it is an outrage, Capital One gaming the CRA system. For example "the Proposed Transaction would result in CONA establishing a new assessment area in  Delaware, which will include all census tracts in Sussex County and seven contiguous census  tracts in Kent County."

That for a nationwide card and subprime auto lender...

  Still no records from the Fed, so this:

This is a FOIA request for the entirety of Capital One's applications for regulatory approval of its Discover proposal, including all portions for which Capital One has requested confidential treatment, and all communications by your agency with the banks since February 19. As of March 22 at 1 am, the Fed's most recent H2A is from March 15

 As documented by Fair Finance Watch, Discover Bank in 2022 denied mortgage loans application from African Americans more than twice as frequently as those of whites. 

  Previously, Inner City Press and NCRC challenged Capital One's acquisition of ING Direct, see here.This time, given the antitrust enforcement claims being made in DC, this proposal should be dead in the water.

On April 3 speaking at NCRC's Just Economy conference Barr said the Fed will not follow the OCC and FDIC with merger processing reform proposals; then he walked Basel III endgame but not explanation why the Fed can't or won't give Capital One documents requested on Feb 19, as to which they purported to grant expedited processing. Watch this site.

April 1, 2024

On the Capital One / Discover merger application, the Fed has granted Inner City Press expedited FOIA processing - but as of March 29 had not provided a single document....

March 25, 2024

Backsliding? The Fed and the other agencies "extended the applicability date of the facility-based assessment areas and public file provisions from April 1, 2024, to January 1, 2026. Therefore, banks will not have to make changes to their assessment areas or their public files as a result of the 2023 CRA final rule until January 1, 2026." Meanwhile the Fed had not provided a single record, as of March 23, in response to Inner City Press' February 19 FOIA request about Capital One / Discover...

March 18, 2024

 "The Federal Reserve Board on Thursday issued an enforcement action against JPMorgan Chase & Co. and fined the firm approximately $98.2 million for an inadequate program to monitor firm and client trading activities for market misconduct. The Board's action requires JPMorgan Chase to review and take corrective action to address the firm's inadequate monitoring practices, which occurred between 2014 and 2023" - but how many of JPM Chase's acquisition has the Fed rubber stamped during the time period?

March 11, 2024

Governon Bowman in New Jersey on March 7 bemoaned that "policy reforms may make bank M&A transactions more difficult for regulators to approve and slow the application processing timeline."

March 4, 2024

The Federal Reserve is getting worse and worse on FOIA, including on banks sued by DOJ for discrimination. They wrote to Inner City Press, you requested "the two exhibits withheld in full by Provident Financial Services,  Inc., Jersey City, New Jersey in its January 18, 2024 Additional  Information response in connection its pending application to  acquire Lakeland Bancorp, Inc., Oak Ridge, New Jersey, and  thereby indirectly acquire Lakeland Bank …. Staff searched Board records and located the documents that are responsive to  your request. I have determined, however, that the withheld portions of the January 18,  2024, Additional Information submission that are responsive to your request contain  confidential commercial and financial information (e.g., nonpublic business plans and  strategies concerning compliance and lending). 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), but no  reasonably segregable nonexempt information was found. Accordingly, approximately  18 pages of information will be withheld from you in full." In full...

February 26, 2024

The Fed just keeps extending its time on FOIA, and not only on Capital One / Discover: On February 20: "This is in response to your electronic message dated January 19, 2024, and received by the Board’s Information Disclosure Section on January 22. Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, you request: the two exhibits withheld in full by Provident Financial Services, Inc., Jersey City, New Jersey in its January 18, 2024 Additional Information response in connection its pending application to acquire Lakeland Bancorp, Inc., Oak Ridge, New Jersey, and thereby indirectly acquire Lakeland Bank, which recently settled lending discrimination charges with DOJ[.] Pursuant to section (a)(6)(B)(i) of the FOIA, we are extending the period for our response until March 5, 2024, 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 March 5, 2024, we will respond to you promptly." Yeah.

February 19, 2024

  Here's a question: What may have been the role of a Federal Reserve Governor in the lawsuit against the CRA regulation?

February 12, 2024

Before FNB Settled on Fair Lending Its Yadkin Merger Was Challenged But Fed Approved It

by Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Book Substack

SOUTH BRONX, NY Feb 5 – When First National Bank of Pennsylvania applied to the Federal Reserve to buy Yadkin bank in North Carolina, Fair Finance Watch challenged it on Community Reinvestment Act and fair lending grounds.  

 The Federal Reserve, as usually, rubber stamped the merger.   Now in February 2024 the Justice Department had sued and settled with FNB on fair lending grounds.

Inner City Press had wanted to ask DOJ about the Fed (including in its recent Patriot Bank action), but has been unable so far.  Watch this site

February 5, 2024

On January 19 Inner City Press submitted a FOIA request; on January 31 the Federal Reserve wrote back: Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, you request: the two exhibits withheld in full by Provident Financial Services, Inc., Jersey City, New Jersey in its January 18, 2024 Additional Information response in connection its pending application to acquire Lakeland Bancorp, Inc., Oak Ridge, New Jersey, and thereby indirectly acquire Lakeland Bank, which recently settled lending discrimination charges with DOJ[.] You also seek expedited processing for your request. In support of your request for expedited treatment, you state that “[t]his information was submitted, unilaterally withheld in full, late in the application process – there is a need to release it for public knowledge BEFORE the Board acts on the application.”  I have determined to grant your request for expedited processing. Accordingly, your request will be processed as soon as practicable and ahead of other FOIA requests." But still no documents...

January 29, 2024

  What is happening to the Federal Reserve? Beyond misrating Patriot Bank just before its DOJ redlining settlement, how the Fed is withholding info about its inquiry into Lakeland Bank's discrimination deal. Ten days ago - with no documents yet - Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch FOIA-ed the Fed: "This is a formal FOIA request for the two exhibits withheld in full by Provident Financial Services, Inc., Jersey City, New Jersey in its January 18, 2024 Additional Information response in connection its pending application  to acquire Lakeland Bancorp, Inc., Oak Ridge, New Jersey, and thereby indirectly acquire Lakeland Bank, which recently settled lending discrimination charges with DOJ   The January 18 response recites then states: Provide an update to all action items included in the Consent Order, reflecting those items which have been completed and any other pertinent updates, including, but not limited to, the status of any deliverables required under the Consent Order that have not yet been completed. Please refer to the attached Confidential Exhibit 1 for a response to this Item.   The entire response is withheld, about fair lending compliance, including public commitments that are unfulfilled. This cannot stand; the information must be provided before the Board acts in any way on the application (other than denial.)

January 22, 2024


Lakeland Bank DOJ Deal Left Disparities So Protest & Fed Asks of DOJ Settlement Withheld

by Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Book Substack

SOUTH BRONX, NY, Jan 19 – When the US Department of Justice sued and immediately settled with Lakeland Bank for fair lending violations, it announced a proposed merger with Provident Bank.

As if to sweep it under the carpet.

And when Fair Finance Watch looked into it, it found that the DOJ settlement did not address in any way the banks' disparities in New York. So on December 1, the FDIC's comment deadline, it filed a protest, with Inner City Press on the FOIA.

Jump cut to March 15, 2023, when Provident's Deputy General Counsel filed a letter with the New York Fed, cc-ing Rodgin Cohen - only on New Jersey, nothing on the disparities in New York.

On January 18 Provident asked two Board questions - by withholding the entire answers. Inner City Press immediately FOIAed: " The January 18 response recites then states: Provide an update to all action items included in the Consent Order, reflecting those items which have been completed and any other pertinent updates, including, but not limited to, the status of any deliverables required under the Consent Order that have not yet been completed. Please refer to the attached Confidential Exhibit 1 for a response to this Item.   The entire response is withheld, about fair lending compliance, including public commitments that are unfulfilled. This cannot stand; the information must be provided before the Board acts in any way on the application (other than denial.)  Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch is a timely protestant to the application; this is also again request that the FRB begin putting all applications online, since the Fed has a new electronic system for applicants. What is the rationale for not doing this, and allowing for delay for the public and community organizations? In these contexts, this comment period should be extended."

Watch this site.

January 15, 2024

This is what the Fed is focused on: The Federal Reserve Board on Thursday announced the execution of the enforcement actions listed below:  Consent prohibition order against John Freeze Former employee of Bank of Jackson Hole, Jackson, Wyoming Misappropriation of documents, including confidential supervisory information  Consent cease and desist order and civil money penalty against Randy Johnson Former employee of Farmers and Merchants Savings Bank, Manchester, Iowa Misappropriation of confidential bank records

January 8, 2024

Corporate Fed, Dallas edition:  Thomas J. Falk, retired chairman and chief executive officer, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Dallas, Texas, renamed Chair.

January 1, 2024

The Federal Reserve is on Threads, UNlike even the United Nations....

December 25, 2023

Why not the Fed? U.S. Bank will pay $36 million over allegations the company illegally blocked out-of-work consumers from accessing unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic, top federal banking regulators announced on Tuesday.  At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Bank had contracts with at least 19 states and the District of Columbia to deliver unemployment benefits to millions of newly out-of-work Americans through its prepaid card.  But due to expanded antifraud controls, the nation's fifth-largest lender froze tens of thousands of prepaid card accounts without leaving users a way to regain access, according to the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

December 18, 2023

  From Basel III endgame to climate, the Fed has its finger in the wind. But on protests from low income areas of banks' redlining? Not so much.

December 11, 2023

  The Fed didn't even ask Atlantic Union about this issues, which Inner City Press raised in September:

Re: Second Comments Opposing the Applications by Atlantic Union to acquire American National Bankshares  - after Atlantic Union is fined by CFPB for exact issue raised in first comment 

Dear Chair Powell, Secretary Misback and others in the FRS: