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September 23, 2019

  Annals of deregulation: The Federal Reserve Board on Thursday announced the termination of the enforcement action listed below:  Optimumbank Holdings, Inc., Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Written Agreement, dated June 22, 2010 Terminated September 11, 2019

September 16, 2019

The Federal Reserve which routinely tells Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press that it simply will not consider anything submitted after it closes a comment period, even if the bank applicant has withheld information improperly, said this in Vista Bank: "After the comment period ended, the commenter filed a second objection, noting that the proposed branch." So the Fed has a double standard....

September 9, 2019

Fed Questions After Community Reinvestment Act Protest to Banco Bradesco Bid For BAC Florida

By Matthew R. Lee, Exclusive

SOUTH BRONX, SDNY, Sept 7 – Amid attacks on the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act this month Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch in early August filed comments under the CRA opposing Banco Bradesco's application to acquire BAC Florida.  Now the Federal Reserve has asked Bradesco some questions, below. Here's some of the protest: "This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting documents about and an extension of the FRB's public comment period on the Application by Banco Bradesco to acquire BAC Florida.       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.       Fair Finance Watch has been reviewing the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data for 2017 for BAC Florida and finds, troublingly, that for home purchase loans in the New York City MSA it made 13 such loans to Asians, and none to African Americans or Latinos. For Latinos it hada 100% denial rate.       In the Miama MSA in 2017, BAC Florida made 68 home puchase loans to whites and none to African Americans.  Now see, for the record, "Brazil's Bradesco to buy Florida bank to focus on wealthy individuals" - "Banco Bradesco SA has embarked on its first-ever international acquisition by paying approximately $500 million to buy BAC Florida Bank, which focuses on high-net-worth individuals in a move intended to close the gap with Brazilian rivals.  Based in Coral Gables, BAC Florida is controlled by Grupo Pellas, which was founded in 1877 in Nicaragua.  After the deal closes, Bradesco said its main goal is to provide a wide range of financial services in the United States to Bradesco clients and lure new customers to BAC Florida.  Bradesco Chief Executive Officer Octavio de Lazari said on a call with journalists that the Brazilian bank’s private banking clients have increasingly demanded diversification and greater access to global products.   “This move underscores our expansion not only in the U.S., but also in Latin America as a whole, as BAC has clients all over the region,” he said. Around 20 percent of BAC Florida’s clients are Brazilian and 9 percent are American.  Still, Lazari said Bradesco is not seeking to build a retail base outside Brazil, but wants to boost its private banking business." Where is the CRA?      

Now see this, on managerial resources, also for the record and the request for an evidentiary hearing: "Brazilian anti-graft prosecutors mull lawsuit against Bradesco"  - " Brazilian prosecutors are considering a civil lawsuit against Banco Bradesco SA , as they believe the country’s second-largest private-sector bank may have failed to prevent corruption schemes, Valor Econômico reported on Thursday.  Earlier this week, prosecutors asked a court to issue an arrest warrant for two Bradesco bank managers, saying they had been part of a complex scheme involving shell companies, fraudulent checks and bank slips that helped launder nearly 1 billion reais ($252 million).  Eduardo El Hage, the prosecutor heading the Rio de Janeiro part of the massive “Car Wash” corruption investigation, told the Brazilian newspaper he believes Bradesco should have caught on to those financial transactions.  Bradesco declined to comment on the matter."       On the current record, Banco Bradesco's applications should be denied."

  On September 6, the Federal Reserve asked Bradesco questions including "Based on our review of the current record, the following additional information is requested. Please provide responses to all of the following items, including those in the Confidential Annex. Supporting documentation should be provided, as appropriate. Proposal 1. The filing states that Lecce will be a Brazilian holding company over BAC. Discuss the role and purpose of Lecce and how it will be integrated into the governance, operating, and reporting structure of Bradesco. 2. Provide a summary of the findings of the due diligence review by Shearman & Sterling LLP, KPMG, and CRMa, LLC., and discuss whether any findings had a bearing on Bradesco's strategy for BAC or would result in changes to BAC's risk management framework and internal controls. 3. Discuss whether the U.S. securities broker-dealers of BAC and Bradesco will maintain separate operations and customer bases, or whether their operations and customers are expected to be integrated. 4. Provide an updated list of the proposed directors and senior executive officers of BAC indicating which of the current BAC directors and senior executive officers are expected to remain with BAC. For any of the proposed directors and senior executive officers who currently have positions with Bradesco, provide their roles in the chart.

 5. Page 23 of Bradesco's Reference Form (2019) in Public Exhibit 2 states that as of December 31, 2018, Fundacao directly and indirectly held 59.1 percent of Bradesco's common shares. As a result, Fundacao "has the power, among other things, to prevent a change in control of our company, even if a transaction of that nature would be beneficial to our other shareholders, as well as to approve related party transactions or corporate reorganizations." In view of the direct and indirect control of more than 50 percent of Bradesco's outstanding voting shares explain how Fundacao's financial statements in Financial Exhibits 6 and 7, which do not consolidate Bradesco, are consistent both with IFRS and Brazilian accounting standards. Organizational Structure 6. Page 1 of the filing notes that each of Bradesco' s Parent Companies ( as defined in the filing) has previously elected to be treated as a financial holding company ("FHC"). Confirm that BBD is the successor company for Elo Participacoes S.A., Vihich was listed on the January 30, 2004 FHC approval letter. 7. Pages 9-12 of the filing provide a description of the Parent Companies and various limitations on their activities. Provide a more specific explanation of the legal limitations of the activities of each Parent Company, including: a. with respect to Fundac;:ao, describe the legal limits on the scope of its investments and activities; b. with respect to BBD, discuss the requirements for amending its bylaws; c. with respect to Nova Cidade, discuss the requirements for changing its governing documents; and, d. with respect to Cidade, discuss the requirements for changing its governing documents. 8. The filing states that apart from its publicly traded shares, Bradesco is owned by Fundacao, an educational foundation, the senior managers of Bradesco, and family members of the founder. In that respect, discuss the business rationale for the three nonoperating parent companies, BBD, Nova Cidade, and Cidade, focusing in particular on their various interrelated and complex cross-holdings, and the additional NCF Participacoes, S.A. ("NCF") intermediate holding company. With respect to the crossholdings, it is noted that Fundac;:ao has direct ownership in Nova Cidade ( 46.3 percent), Cidade (35.4 percent), (25.1 percent), and Bradesco (17.1 percent); Cidade has direct ownership in Bradesco (45.6 percent) and NCF (74.7 percent); and NCF has direct ownership in Bradesco (8.43 percent)." We'll have more on this.

September 2, 2019

  Many keep saying that the Federal Reserve will stand up to Joe Otting on his crusade to weaken the Community Reinvestment Act. But where IS the Fed on this? Watch this site.

August 26, 2019

On Bangladesh Bank US Federal Reserve Upholds Its Own Withholding of FOIA Records

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

FEDERAL COURTHOUSE, August 19 – The Bangladeshi Central Bank which was hacked for $81 million in February 2016, on January 31 sued in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. The first pre-trial conference in the case was held on May 21; on July 19 Bangladesh Bank opposed the defendant's motions to dismiss for forum non conveniens and lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

 On related obstruction news, in a letter dated August 20 the US Federal Reserve Board upheld its own denial of documents about Bangladesh Bank with Inner City Press requested under the Freedom of Information Act. More here including the Fed's letter on Patreon, here. We'll have more on this.

  Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation's Ismael Reyes has started a separate ex parte action in the SDNY, seeking discovery against Bank of New York Mellon. That case has been assigned a separate number: 19-cv-7219.

  Bangladesh Bank responded on August 19, telling SDNY Judge Lorna G. Schofield that "Defendants did not clarify that the 1782 procedure does not work against crucial governmental discovery sources, like the FBI and possibly the New York Fed, pointing instead to the vastly more limited FOIA process."  So it is apparently unclear if Section 1782 applies to the Fed; that the Federal Reserve limits - and delays - FOIA, Inner City Press can attest to. We'll have more on this.

  Earlier, Bangladesh Bank wrote that "[t]he robbery was in New York City, not a foreign country, attacking a decades-old account in the New York. It involved the New York Fed, perhaps the most critically important bank in New York City. The conspirators also needed New York-based correspondence accounts to accomplish the theft." In its other brief it adds, "Since 1973, the Bank has held its foreign reserves at the New York Fed in order to conduct Bangladesh’s international transactions in U.S. dollars. Id. ¶¶ 37-40. Today, the Bank conducts 85% of its international transactions in the U.S. dollar, through its New York Fed account, that holds a daily average of $1.5 billion."

  Back in March Inner City Press submitted a request under the US Freedom of Information Act to the US Federal Reserve about its role in and action on the Bangladesh Bank heist. After four months of delay from the Fed, and an appeal by Inner City Press of their constructive denial, the Fed finally ruled on June 27 - releasing only one page, a two paragraph cover letter.

  This is the opposite of transparency.

August 19, 2019

Community Reinvestment Act Challenge to Banco Bradesco Bid For BAC Florida on Fraud Disparate Lending

By Matthew R. Lee, Exclusive

SOUTH BRONX, SDNY, August 10 – Amid attacks on the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act this month Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch has filed comments under the CRA opposing Banco Bradesco's application to acquire BAC Florida.  Here's some of it: "This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting documents about and an extension of the FRB's public comment period on the Application by Banco Bradesco to acquire BAC Florida.       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.       Fair Finance Watch has been reviewing the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data for 2017 for BAC Florida and finds, troublingly, that for home purchase loans in the New York City MSA it made 13 such loans to Asians, and none to African Americans or Latinos. For Latinos it hada 100% denial rate.       In the Miama MSA in 2017, BAC Florida made 68 home puchase loans to whites and none to African Americans.  Now see, for the record, "Brazil's Bradesco to buy Florida bank to focus on wealthy individuals" - "Banco Bradesco SA has embarked on its first-ever international acquisition by paying approximately $500 million to buy BAC Florida Bank, which focuses on high-net-worth individuals in a move intended to close the gap with Brazilian rivals.  Based in Coral Gables, BAC Florida is controlled by Grupo Pellas, which was founded in 1877 in Nicaragua.  After the deal closes, Bradesco said its main goal is to provide a wide range of financial services in the United States to Bradesco clients and lure new customers to BAC Florida.  Bradesco Chief Executive Officer Octavio de Lazari said on a call with journalists that the Brazilian bank’s private banking clients have increasingly demanded diversification and greater access to global products.   “This move underscores our expansion not only in the U.S., but also in Latin America as a whole, as BAC has clients all over the region,” he said. Around 20 percent of BAC Florida’s clients are Brazilian and 9 percent are American.  Still, Lazari said Bradesco is not seeking to build a retail base outside Brazil, but wants to boost its private banking business." Where is the CRA?      

Now see this, on managerial resources, also for the record and the request for an evidentiary hearing: "Brazilian anti-graft prosecutors mull lawsuit against Bradesco"  - " Brazilian prosecutors are considering a civil lawsuit against Banco Bradesco SA , as they believe the country’s second-largest private-sector bank may have failed to prevent corruption schemes, Valor Econômico reported on Thursday.  Earlier this week, prosecutors asked a court to issue an arrest warrant for two Bradesco bank managers, saying they had been part of a complex scheme involving shell companies, fraudulent checks and bank slips that helped launder nearly 1 billion reais ($252 million).  Eduardo El Hage, the prosecutor heading the Rio de Janeiro part of the massive “Car Wash” corruption investigation, told the Brazilian newspaper he believes Bradesco should have caught on to those financial transactions.  Bradesco declined to comment on the matter."       On the current record, Banco Bradesco's applications should be denied." We'll have more on this.

August 12, 2019

Capital One Inactive On Hacking 127 Days While Federal Reserve At Amazon Dog and Pony Show

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

SDNY COURTHOUSE, August 4 – Three years after Capital One Bank was sued for its overdraft fees on debit card transactions for which there were sufficient funds available in the customers' accounts, on June 25 the bank's motion for summary judgment was denied by U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Lorna G. Schofield.   

  On July 29 Capital One belatedly disclosed that it was "compromised," including 140,000 social security numbers, 80,000 linked bank account numbers, and “personal information” from credit card applications from 2005 through early 2019. This hacking began on March 12, but Capital One didn’t do anything about it until 127 days later.  And where were and are the regulators, who approved Capital One's mergers rebuffing detailed Press comments?

 Now we learn that the Federal Reserve nosed around at Amazon AWS in Virginia, accepting that it could not take any information. So how are they regulating Capital One? Inner City Press files Freedom of Information Act requests with the Fed, which delays for months and then , as on money laundering at BB&T, produces one page, then the FDIC a mere three. There is no accountability - yet.

August 5, 2019

Money Laundering Endgame At Truist Concealed As FDIC Gives Only 3 Pages To Inner City Press

By Matthew R. Lee, FOIA docs, BB&T denial

NEW YORK CITY, August 2 – When BB&T announced a $66 billion proposal to take over Suntrust Bank, to form a subsequently named Truist, many linked it to deregulatory moves in Washington. Then two days after Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard was asked by Inner City Press about the Fed's lax review of previous mergers, including WSFS on which the Fed still hasn't ruled on the bank's withholding of information after rubber stamping the deal, the Fed announced public hearings. But the fix it seems it still in. On April 18, conveniently, the Fed "announce[d] termination of enforcement action with BB&T Corporation" for money laundering. So there's a public comment period on the merger, but none on the Fed's dubious move while the application is pending. Meanwhile as Inner City Press has exclusively reported, BB&T has been named in connection with sleazy debt collections in a case in the SDNY - more on all this to come. On April 29, Inner City Press submitted a FOIA request about the dubious termination of enforcement action, and a comment to the Fed and FDIC, below.

 On August 2 the FDIC belatedly gave Inner City Press only the June 2019 Order ending without explanation the money laundering enforcement action against BB&T. The FDIC redacted John P. Henrie's signature as private information. What else are they withholding? Watch this site.

  Yet at the July 24 House hearing about the merger, "U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., said the banks’ domestic focus and lack of international banking exposure gives him confidence that a combined Truist would meet its socio-economic obligations within its territory." What about the dubious record on money laundering, and too convenient termination of enforcement in order to approve the merger, then withholding of all documents?

July 29, 2019

  Drum beat: "The agencies are requesting additional specific information in the next resolution plans from seven firms: HSBC Holdings plc; BNP Paribas; Royal Bank of Canada; Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A.; Bank of Montreal; Banco Santander, S.A.; and Toronto-Dominion Bank.  The agencies extended the filing deadline for the 82 foreign banks and 15 domestic banks until July 1, 2021. This extension will mitigate uncertainty around the banks' filing requirements while the agencies' April proposal to revise the resolution plan rule remains pending.  Finally, the agencies extended the next full resolution plan submission date for four other foreign banks—Barclays PLC, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank AG, and UBS AG—to July 1, 2021. These banks remain required to submit limited plans by July 1, 2020, describing how they have addressed the shortcomings identified in December 2018 and providing updates concerning certain resolution projects." We'll have more on this.

July 22, 2019

On Money Laundering After Federal Reserve Withheld 133 Pages On Truist Inner City Press Appeal Gets 1 More Page

By Matthew R. Lee, FOIA docs, BB&T denial

NEW YORK CITY, July 20 – When BB&T announced a $66 billion proposal to take over Suntrust Bank, to form a subsequently named Truist, many linked it to deregulatory moves in Washington. Then two days after Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard was asked by Inner City Press about the Fed's lax review of previous mergers, including WSFS on which the Fed still hasn't ruled on the bank's withholding of information after rubber stamping the deal, the Fed announced public hearings. But the fix it seems it still in. On April 18, conveniently, the Fed "announce[d] termination of enforcement action with BB&T Corporation" for money laundering. So there's a public comment period on the merger, but none on the Fed's dubious move while the application is pending. Meanwhile as Inner City Press has exclusively reported, BB&T has been named in connection with sleazy debt collections in a case in the SDNY - more on all this to come. On April 29, Inner City Press submitted a FOIA request about the dubious termination of enforcement action, and a comment to the Fed and FDIC, below.

  On the afternoon of May 2, before seeking to close the comment period on BB&T - Suntrust on May 3, the Federal Reserve wrote to Inner City Press that only ONE PAGE about its BB&T money laundering enforcement termination would be provided, and 133 pages withheld in full, no even subject to the type of partial redaction that is required under FOIA. FRB 99% denial letter here.

  The one page is not even from the Federal Reserve: it is from the North Carolina regulator. Now on July 18 after Inner City Press' appeal the Fed - not even a Governor, as in the past, but Secretary Ann E. Misback, has upheld the failure to provide information, expect for one additional page, an approval letter to BB&T's Board of Directors. Secretary Misback writes: "Dear Mr. Lee:  This is in response to your email message dated May 3, 2019, and received by the Board's Information Disclosure Section on May 6, in which you appeal, pursuant to 12 C.F .R. § 26 l. l 3(i), the decision of the Deputy Secretary of the Board ("Deputy Secretary") to deny your request for information under the Freedom oflnformation Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552.  Background  By email message dated and received by the Board's Information Disclosure Section on April 29, 2019, you requested records regarding "the 18 April 2019 termination of the money laundering [ enforcement] action against BB&T."  By letter dated May 2, 2019, the Deputy Secretary infonned you that staff searched Board records and located information responsive to your request. The Deputy Secretary advised that the majority of the responsive records consist of internal and inter-agency pre-decisional deliberations and recommendations as well as confidential supervisory infonnation related to the supervision and examination of a Federal Reserve-regulated financial institution. The Deputy Secretary further advised that this information is exempt and would be withheld from you under the authority of exemptions 5 and 8 of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. §§ 552(b)(5) and (b)(8), respectively. The Deputy Secretary explained that the records had been reviewed under the requirements of subsection (b) of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b), and all reasonably segregable nonexempt infonnation would be made available to you. The Deputy Secretary advised that approximately one" - page, and now only one more. Outrageous.

July 15, 2019

On the Federal Reserve web site on July 13, the furthest-out comment period was July 16. So there has not been a single merger or other application to the Fed for a month?

Provident Bancorp Inc., Amesbury, Massachusetts;    to become a bank holding company by acquiring 100 percent of the voting shares of Provident Bank, also of Amesbury, Massachusetts, upon the conversion of Provident Bancorp from mutual to stock form.    3    Boston    07/16/2019 First Merchants Corporation, Muncie, Indiana;    to merge with MBT Financial Corp. and thereby indirectly acquire Monroe Bank & Trust, both of Monroe, Michigan.    3    Chicago    07/15/2019 First State Bancshares, Inc., New London, Wisconsin;    to merge with Pioneer Bancorp, Inc. and indirectly acquire Pioneer Bank, both of Auburndale, Wisconsin.    3    Chicago    07/15/2019

July 8, 2019

To Federal Reserve Cadence Bank Redacted 80% of Letter About FIS Leverage Now Inner City Press Gets

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, 7/31 story

SOUTH BRONX, July 5 – Cadence Bancorporation which has a disparate lending record while apply to buy State Bank in Georgia and urging faster regulatory approvals, seemingly jumped the gun before having the required Federal Reserve Board approval. That was six months ago, when a letter that Cadence and its outside counsel, former Federal Reserve lawyer Patricia Robinson, were required to provide a copy to Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch they on purpose only sent by mail (rather than e-mail), then delayed weeks in resending. Photo here.

  Now after delaying for six months, effectively covering up for these two banks, the Federal Reserve on 5 July 2019 emailed Inner City Press the unredacted letter. It said: "Delaying action on the Application such that Cadence and SBFC could not consummate the holding company merger and related bank merger by year-end would result in significant financial costs and other substantial hardships. All of the additional costs and hardships incurred by Cadence and SBFC from having to operate two separate banks for a longer period would materially reduce the value of the proposed transaction. In particular, a delay in closing the proposed transaction beyond year-end 2018 would seriously jeopardize the timing of the systems conversion date, which is now scheduled for February 15, 2019. This date was chosen to provide an optimum three-day weekend to facilitate a smooth conversion. Cadence and SBFC already have a tight schedule of pre-conversion testing, employee training and related events to help ensure a smooth conversion. Various testing aspects cannot be fully conducted until after the proposed transaction closes, so a delay in closing would unreasonably compress the pre-conversion schedule and significantly threaten a successful conversion. Having to reschedule the conversion date would likely postpone the systems conversion date by several months due to the near term unavailability of Fidelity Information Services, LLC (“FIS”), resulting in higher conversion costs, additional consulting fees, payroll and operational expenses. The delay also would materially impact Cadence’s negotiations with FIS for a new Information Technology Services Agreement (“Agreement”), along with various addenda and related statements of work. Under the Agreement, Cadence receives multiple applications and professional services from FIS that are integral to Cadence’s operations, products and services. Cadence anticipates that successful negotiations with FIS for a new Agreement could result in significant savings to Cadence after the mergers and systems conversion. Cadence expects that a further delay in regulatory approval would significantly reduce its negotiating position with FIS and diminish the potential savings." Photo here. It's all about the Benjamins. We'll have more on this.

July 1, 2019

On Bangladesh Bank Heist US Federal Reserve Provides Only 1 Page Under FOIA Amid SDNY Case

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

FEDERAL COURTHOUSE, June 29 – The Bangladeshi Central Bank which was hacked for $81 million in February 2016, on January 31 sued in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. The first pre-trial conference in the case was held on May 21, see below.

  Back in March Inner City Press submitted a request under the US Freedom of Information Act to the US Federal Reserve about its role in and action on the Bangladesh Bank heist. After four months of delay from the Fed, and an appeal by Inner City Press of their constructive denial, the Fed finally ruled on June 27 - releasing only one page, a two paragraph cover letter.

  This is the opposite of transparency. Inner City Press on June 29 submitted an appeal: "Dear Governor in charge of FOIA Appeals:  On behalf of Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch (ICP), this is a near immediate FOIA appeal of FRB absurd denial by providing only one page, a two paragraph cover letter, in response to Inner City Press' FOIA request four months ago regarding the Federal Reserve's role in and action on the Bangladesh Bank heist      As you must know, agencies are request to provided all reasonably segregable information and are not allow mass withhold, as here. Beyond the Bangladesh Bank, to withhold in full records about the oversight by the Board over the Reserve Bank is an outrage. See also Inner City Press' timely comments on the FRB's current proposals to modify - and weaken - its FOIA responsibilities.   

We requested and request: records regarding the Federal Reserve System's [role] including the FRBNY's role in what is known as the Bangladesh Bank hack or cyber heist and assistance provided to Bangladesh Bank and investigative authorities since the heist, including but limited to in connection with the SDNY case Bangladesh Bank v Rizal Commercial Banking Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-00983.  and, for the record, from Inner City Press' May 21 submission: " First, the FRB denied the request for expedited processing, finding no threat of physical harm (??) and also reciting and presumably denying under this standard:     "[t]he requester is a representative of the news media ... and there is urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Board activity.”     Still, the Fed in further extending its time said there would be response by April 2. There has been none, nothing at all.   Today in the SDNY counsel for Bangladesh Bank directly referred to the Federal Reserve. The Fed's delay, contrasted to the fast if bad faith turn around on Inner City Press' BB&T money laundering enforcement action termination FOIA, is in this context unacceptable, even a cover up.    This is an appeal. The FRB should provide an explanation of nothing since April 2, and the long ago requested documents."    Inner City Press is hereby appealing from the withholding, demanding that all segregable information be provided, immediately." Watch this site.

June 24, 2019

Four days after Inner City Press submitted its FOIA comment to the Fed, they robo-acknowledged it:

"Thank you for commenting on the Board's recent proposal. Your views will be helpful to the Board in its consideration of this matter    Office of the Secretary  Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System "

June 17, 2019

Federal Reserve Proposes Weakening Its Duties Under FOIA As Withholds Docs on Mergers and Bangladesh Bank

By Matthew Russell Lee

SOUTH BRONX, SDNY COURT, June 15 – The U.S. Federal Reserve Board, while still withholding documents about the Bangladeshi Central Bank hack and its role in it requested months ago by Inner City Press under the Freedom of Information Act, has put out for comment a proposal to further weaken its duties under FOIA. The proposal does not even address an obvious disrespect by the Fed to public commenters which Inner City Press raised to a Fed Governor earlier this year. Now as a first comment, this has been submitted:

June 15, 2019 

Via e-mail to regs.comments [at] federalreserve [dot] gov 

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Attn: Governors, Ann E. Misback, Secretary 20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW Washington, DC 20551 
Re: First Comment on Docket No. R–1665 and RIN No. 7100 AF 51 

Dear Governors and Ann E. Misback, Secretary:     

On behalf of Inner City Press, a frequent requester to the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) and other agencies under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and in my personal capacity, this is a first comment on the proposed revisions to the FRB's proposed rulemaking (proposal) that would amend the Board’s Rules Regarding Availability of Information (Board’s Rules).    

As a practitioner what is most disappointing about this rulemaking is that the FRB has not even proposed to address a major problem raised to it, including to Governor Lael Brainard earlier this year: that the FRB routinely delays responding to FOIA requests and even frivolous requests for confidential treatment by applicants for regulator approval under AFTER the Board has approved contested merger applications.     As Inner City Press asked Governor Brainard, how does this FRB failure not incentivize applicant banks to make overbroad requests for confidential treatment of their applications, responses to public comment and response to FRB Additional Information requests, knowing that there is no repercussion nor commitment by the FRB to address the overbroad withholding request until after their applications are approved?    Given the FRB's legal duty to consider public comments on mergers, including comments informed by what the applicant banks actually submit, the FRB must address this problem in this rulemaking.  

 Overall, the FRB not only denied expedited processing of Inner City Press' request for FRB records concerning its actions and role in the Bangladesh Bank hack and case - it has refused to respond to an appeal of its constructive denial of access to any records, after months, see below incorporated herein by reference. This too must be addressed.     For now, we also note the potential abuse, shown most recently by the FRB's sister agency the OCC, that allowing the agency to do nothing to begin collecting records as long as it disputes a fee waiver request. The OCC is still disputing a fee waiver request for the submissions of WSFS for approval to acquire Beneficial in Philadelphia, long after the OCC (like the FRB) approved the Application.     We may have further comment but wished the raise the above at the earliest possible time in the process to ensure that the FRB belatedly address the issue(s).    

Thank you for your attention.  Matthew Lee, Executive Director Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch

Incorporated by reference along with underlying request(s) in the FRB's possession: 

From: Matthew R. Lee, Inner City Press Date: Tue, May 21, 2019 at 2:05 PM Subject: FOIA appeal of FRB's constructive denial of Feb 17 FOIA request about Bangladesh Bank, nothing since April 2, SDNY today

May 21, 2019 

FRB Governor covering FOIA appeals: Information Disclosure Section, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve 20th & Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20551  FOIA APPEAL of constructive denial of FOIA Request No. F-2019-00095  Dear FRB Governor covering FOIA appeals:   This is an appeal of what is now the constructive denial of Inner City Press' and my Feb 17, 2019 FOIA request for "records regarding the Federal Reserve System's [role] including the FRBNY's role in what is known as the Bangladesh Bank hack or cyber heist and assistance provided to Bangladesh Bank and investigative authorities since the heist, including but limited to in connection with the SDNY case Bangladesh Bank v Rizal Commercial Banking Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-00983."    First, the FRB denied the request for expedited processing, finding no threat of physical harm (??) and also reciting and presumably denying under this standard:     "[t]he requester is a representative of the news media ... and there is urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Board activity.”    Still, the Fed in further extending its time said there would be response by April 2. There has been none, nothing at all.   Today in the SDNY counsel for Bangladesh Bank directly referred to the Federal Reserve. The Fed's delay, contrasted to the fast if bad faith turn around on Inner City Press' BB&T money laundering enforcement action termination FOIA, is in this context unacceptable, even a cover up.    This is an appeal. The FRB should provide an explanation of nothing since April 2, and the long ago requested documents.  Please confirm receipt, thank you in advance, 

Matthew Lee, Inner City Press/Fair Finance Watch"

No response at all three weeks later from the FRB.

June 10, 2019

Barclays Withdraws Cayman Islands Bid For Federal Reserve Approval Inner City Press Opposed and Reports

By Matthew R. Lee, Patreon

NEW YORK CITY, May 30 – Barclays applied to the U.S. Federal Reserve in early 2018 for regulatory approval for a Cayman Islands holding company to become the parent of its U.S. bank. Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch, as dubious then as now about such moves, requested documents and a delay or denial of the proposal.

 Now on May 29, 2019, fifteen months later, the Federal Reserve has informed Inner City Press that Barclays has "withdrawn" its Cayman Islands application.  Federal Reserve's May 29 Barclays letter and more on Patreon, here.

This comes, for example, the day after a proceeding in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in the first U.S. Panama Papers prosecution, which Inner City Press attended and reported on here, and amid renewed focus on the activities of non U.S. banks like Deutsche Bank in the US.  Here's from Inner City Press' 16 February 2018 filing with the Federal Reserve: "Dear Chair Powell, Secretary Misback and others in the FRS:  This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the FRB's public comment period on the Applications of Barclays PLC and Barclays US Holdings Ltd., organized under the laws of the Cayman Islands to acquire Barclays Bank.  It is noteworthy that on the very final day of the comment period of this Barclays Bank Cayman Islands application, the Federal Reserve has announced “The Federal Reserve Board on Friday announced that it is seeking to permanently bar Peter Little, the former head of the foreign exchange (FX) spot desk at Barclays Bank PLC in New York, from employment in the banking industry and to impose a $487,500 fine on him. Little is alleged to have engaged in unsafe and unsound practices by using electronic chat rooms to coordinate with traders at competitor banks to influence FX pricing benchmarks and by engaging in manipulative trading. Little is also alleged to have failed to adequately supervise subordinate traders at Barclays who coordinated with and disclosed confidential information to competitors on Little's behalf.”  Those problems are about the institution, which is here applying to interpose a Cayman Islands subsidiary. Is this to evade taxes? To evade disclosure?  Barclays is associated with using tax havens to avoid taxes: for example in Ireland paying a mere 2%, versus a statutory rate of 12%.

June 3, 2019

Bangladesh Bank Heist Case Hits Jurisdiction and Forum Questions In SDNY As Briefs Due June 14

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

FEDERAL COURTHOUSE, May 21 – The Bangladeshi Central Bank which was hacked for $81 million in February 2016, on January 31 sued in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. The first pre-trial conference in the case was held on May 21, and at it SDNY Judge Lorna G. Schofield expressed serious concern if she has subject matter jurisdiction.

  Judge Schofield encouraged the defendants to jointly file two briefs supporting a motion to dismiss by June 14. The first is to be on subject matter jurisdiction, the second on "forum non conveniens." 

  Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC), through its counsel Tai-Heng Cheng of Sidley Austin on May 21 marveled that Bangladesh Bank has still not succeeded with service of process of the complaint - actually handing the document to those charged, in essence - for example failing to use a sheriff under provisions of Philippines law.

  There also remain questions about service on the other named defendants, one of whom (Mr. Go) is now deceased. The others include: "MAIA SANTOS DEGUITO, ANGELA RUTH TORRES, LORENZO V. TAN, RAUL VICTOR B. TAN, ISMAEL S. REYES, BRIGITTE R. CAPIÑA, NESTOR O. PINEDA, ROMUALDO S. AGARRADO, PHILREM SERVICE CORP., SALUD BAUTISTA, MICHAEL BAUTISTA, CENTURYTEX TRADING, WILLIAM SO GO, BLOOMBERRY RESORTS AND HOTELS, INC. D/B/A SOLAIRE RESORT & CASINO [represented on May 21 by Daniel M. Perry of Milbank], EASTERN HAWAII LEISURE COMPANY, LTD. D/B/A MIDAS HOTEL & CASINO, KAM SIN WONG A/K/A KIM WONG, WEIKANG XU, DING ZHIZE, GAO SHUHUA, and JOHN DOES 1-25." 

  Judge Schofield encouraged Bangladesh Bank to try to perfect service, but remained focused on whether she and the SDNY court havesubject matter jurisdiction. She asked, as to the RICO claim in the complaint, when the alleged conspiracy began and ended. Bangladesh Bank's response referred to US government complaints, including in the U.S. District Court for the District of Central California, against North Korea for the SONY hack in 2014.

   Afterward Inner City Press asked Bangladesh Bank's lead lawyer, John J. Sullivan of Cozen O'Connor, if he had been surprised by Judge Schofield's approach. He said he had expected it, and argued that the judge is considering whether the case is best placed in Federal court or New York State Supreme Court on the other side of Pearl Street. 

  Inner City Press asked him, Doesn't forum non conveniens in this case point to the Philippines? And why hasn't Bangladesh Bank also sued North Korea? Sullivan said he was not at liberty to answer. We'll have more on this - for now, more on Patreon, here.    Inner City Press has appealed the Fed's constructive denial of its FOIA request on this - without response...

May 27, 2019

The Fed terminates enforcement actions so that banks can do mergers, like BB&T and now this:

May 23, 2019  Federal Reserve Board announces termination of enforcement actions For release at 11:00 a.m. EDT  Share The Federal Reserve Board on Thursday announced the termination of the enforcement actions listed below:  Fulton Financial Corporation, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Lafayette Ambassador Bank, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Cease and Desist Order, dated September 4, 2014 (PDF) Terminated May 20, 2019  United Bank Limited, Karachi, Pakistan and United Bank Limited, New York Branch, New York, New York Written Agreement, dated July 2, 2018 (PDF) Terminated May 20, 2019

But the Fed refuses, even when FOIA-ed, to say why...

May 20, 2019

Last week Governor Quarles told the Senate Banking Committee about the two public meeting - he called them hearings, which they were not - the Fed has held on BB&T / Suntrust. But the banks have not even responded to written comments, much less on BB&T AML violations. Watch this site.

May 13, 2019

How cozy is the Fed with its former senior lawyers? This week Inner City Press belatedly received a partial FOIA response to a request from last year about Cadence Bank - and Pat Robinson of Wachtel Lipton asked Alison Thro to meet about the merger and the response, including location, is redacted as "private."...We'll have more on this.

May 6, 2019

As Federal Reserve Rubber Stamps Mergers Covering For BB&T At Least No More Moore

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

SOUTH BRONX,  May 2 – Federal Reserve Board chairman Jay Powell told Congress he will run transparent reviews of mergers like BB&T - Suntrust, and announced two public hearings as if to prove it. But on February 27 while still not acting on Inner City Press' Freedom of Information Act request for withheld information, his Fed Board rubber stamped the application by WSFS to buy Beneficial and close at least 25 branches. Until May 2 the Fed has directly portended to become even more of a rubber stamp, with the now withdrawn nomination to the Board of Stephen Moore, even after his characterization as "armpits" of  Cleveland - host to the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland - and Cincinnati. Moore said it was due to stress on is family but earlier on May 2 was bragging to finance reporters that he would go forward. No more. (No Moore).

  But the Federal Reserve remains problematic. It has only today an hour after Moore's nomination ended produced only a single page of the "all records" Inner City Press has requested under the Freedom of Information Act about the Fed's dubious decision to terminate its money laundering enforcement order against BB&T just before the comment period on its proposed merger with Suntrust is set to expire on May 3. We'll have more on this.

  Nomination post-mortem: apparently in an attempt to keep his candidacy alive, Moore appeared without taking audience questions on the Brian Lehrer radio show on WNYC in New York on Sunday APril 28 appeared on ABC This Week. He was not asked about his substantive anti-CRA views, but was asked about his writing on gender and the closing the pay gap might be disruptive to the family. His evasive answer was about the current economy. Will it work? Senator Susan Collins was cited. We'll have more on this.

  On April 22, Herman Cain was out of the running. Opposition to Cain's nomination grew include four Republican Senators: Sens. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, and according to many, Cory Gardner of Colorado.  Now on April 22 Trump said Monday that he would not nominate Herman Cain to the Federal Reserve after the former GOP presidential candidate asked him not to.  Senate Republicans had warned the White House against naming the businessman and 2012 presidential hopeful to serve on the body's board of governors.   "My friend Herman Cain, a truly wonderful man, has asked me not to nominate him for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board," Trump tweeted. "I will respect his wishes. Herman is a great American who truly loves our Country!"  But it is still important to note that the Fed's own fraud in its Reserve Bank directors has been highlighted by Cain's nomination: from 1992 to 1996, Cain served as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Why? The Fed can be a fraud, as it is proving on FOIA.

April 29, 2019

While Sumitomo stands accused of discrimination and retaliation in the SDNY, the FRBNY a few blocks south settles on the cheap: "WHEREAS, on April 23, 2019, the board of directors of the Bank, at a duly constituted meeting, adopted a resolution authorizing and directing Mr. Masahiko Oshima and Mr. Nobuyuki Kawabata to enter into this Written Agreement (the “Agreement”) on behalf of the Bank and the Branch, respectively, and consenting to compliance with each and every provision of this Agreement by the Bank and the Branch. NOW, THEREFORE, the Reserve Bank, the Bank, and the Branch hereby agree as follows: Corporate Governance and Management Oversight 1. Within 60 days of this Agreement, the Bank’s board of directors and the Branch’s management shall jointly submit a written plan to enhance oversight, by the management of the Bank and Branch, of the Branch’s compliance with the BSA/AML Requirements and the OFAC Regulations acceptable to the Reserve Bank." Inner City Press will have more on this.

April 22, 2019

As BB&T Tries Taking Over Suntrust Fed Lifts Enforcement Action But Named in SDNY Inner City Press Will Raise

By Matthew R. Lee, FOIA docs

NEW YORK CITY, April 19 – When BB&T announced a $66 billion proposal to take over Suntrust Bank, which would close a still undisclosed number of branches and extend BB&T disparate lending patterns, many linked it to deregulatory moves in Washington. Then two days after Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard was asked by Inner City Press about the Fed's lax review of previous mergers, including WSFS on which the Fed still hasn't ruled on the bank's withholding of information after rubber stamping the deal, the Fed announced public hearings. But the fix it seems it still in. On April 18, conveniently, the Fed "announce[d] termination of enforcement action with BB&T Corporation" for money laundering. So there's a public comment period on the merger, but none on the Fed's dubious move while the application is pending. Meanwhile as Inner City Press has exclusively reported, BB&T has been named in connection with sleazy debt collections in a case in the SDNY - more on all this to come.


 this: "The Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) on Thursday announced that they will jointly hold two public meetings on the proposed merger of BB&T Corporation, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with SunTrust Banks, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. As part of the proposal, BB&T would merge SunTrust Bank with and into its subsidiary state non-member bank, Branch Banking and Trust Company, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  The purpose of the meetings is to collect information relating to the convenience and needs of the communities to be served, including a review of the insured depository institutions' performance under the Community Reinvestment Act. The agencies also will consider and collect information on other factors relevant to making a decision on the application, including the effects of the proposal on the stability of the U.S. banking or financial system, the financial and managerial resources and future prospects of the companies, and competition in the relevant markets.  The first public meeting will be held:  Thursday, April 25 at 8:30 a.m., EDT Charlotte Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond 530 East Trade Street, Charlotte, North Carolina The second public meeting will be held:  Friday, May 3, at 8:30 a.m., EDT Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta 1000 Peachtree Street N.E., Atlanta, Georgia. All persons wishing to testify at the public meeting in Charlotte should submit a written request no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, April 15, 2019. A request to testify at the Charlotte public meeting may be sent by mail to: Matthew Martin, Vice President, Research Department, Microeconomics and Research Communications, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, 530 East Trade Street, Charlotte, North Carolina, 28202; by online form at: the Charlotte Public Meeting Request Form; by e-mail to: publicmeeting.charlotte@rich.frb.org; or by facsimile: 704-358-2300.  All persons wishing to testify at the public meeting in Atlanta should submit a written request no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. A request to testify at the Atlanta public meeting may be sent by mail to: Karen Leone de Nie, Vice President Community and Economic Development, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 1000 Peachtree Street N.E., Atlanta, Georgia, 30309; by online form at: Atlanta Public Meeting Request Form; by e-mail to: atlfedcomdev@atl.frb.org." Game on.

April 15, 2019

  This has been filed: "Dear Chair Powell, Secretary Misback, others in FRB:    This is a request for a full copy of, and a timely first comment on, the Applications of Chemical Financial Corporation, Detroit, Michigan to merge with TCF Financial Corporation and thereby indirectly acquire TCF National Bank.

 ...Chemical Bank in 2017 in the Detroit MSA to which the two banks seek to move their headquarters denied the home purchase loan applications of African Americans more than FOUR TIMES more frequently than those of whites, much worse even than the rest of the industry. This is true even though Chemical Bank reported, for conventional home purchase loans, zero denials for African Americans, presumptively not credible on 51 applications. Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch is timely requesting an evidentiary hearing. 

Also, prior the requested hearing and for the record, note that A TCF Financial Corp. shareholder has accused the company and its board of violating securities laws through misleading regulatory filings ahead of its proposed merger with Chemical Financial Corp.  TCF and its executives omitted key information, including financial projections for both companies and the raw data underlying them, from registration statements they filed with the Securities Exchange Commission urging shareholders to approve the deal, according to the April 9 complaint filed in Delaware federal court.

  The comment period should be extended; evidentiary hearings should be held; and on the current record, the application should not be approved.   Inner City Press notes that the FRB web site while listing email addressed to submit comments and information requests to some Reserve Banks does not include such information for the Chicago Fed: why not?" Watch this site.

April 8, 2019

As Federal Reserve Rubber Stamps Mergers Nominee Herman Cain Can Cites KC Fed Service

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

SOUTH BRONX,  April 5 – Federal Reserve Board chairman Jay Powell told Congress he will run transparent reviews of mergers like BB&T - Suntrust, and announced two public hearings as if to prove it. But on February 27 while still not acting on Inner City Press' Freedom of Information Act request for withheld information, his Fed Board rubber stamped the application by WSFS to buy Beneficial and close at least 25 branches. Now the Fed portends to become even more of a rubber stamp, even more dismissive of the Community Reinvestment Act, now that not only Stephen Moore, but also Herman Cain, have been nominated. While expecting opposition to Cain to grow, legitimately and from within the Deep State, it is important to note that the Fed's own fraud in its Reserve Bank directors is highlighted by Cain's nomination: from 1992 to 1996, Cain served as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Why? And now that will be cited as his qualification. The Fed can be a fraud, as it is proving on FOIA. As to Moore, beyond his article trashing the CRA, here, Moore has been outed for using false data such that even the Kansas City Star said they won't publish him any more. But he'd be in on FRB merger approval orders? As pointed out, Moore previously urged people to burn their Social Security cards and refuse to pay into the system, video here.

April 1, 2019

As Federal Reserve Rubber Stamps Mergers Ex Gov Kohn Slaps Anti CRA Nominee Stephen Moore

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

SOUTH BRONX, March 29 – Federal Reserve Board chairman Jay Powell told Congress he will run transparent reviews of mergers like BB&T - Suntrust, and announced two public hearings as if to prove it. But on February 27 while still not acting on Inner City Press' Freedom of Information Act request for withheld information, his Fed Board rubber stamped the application by WSFS to buy Beneficial and close at least 25 branches. Now the Fed portends to become even more of a rubber stamp, even more dismissive of the Community Reinvestment Act, now that Stephen Moore has been nominated. Beyond his article trashing the CRA, here, Moore has been outed for using false data such that even the Kansas City Star said they won't publish him any more. But he'd be in on FRB merger approval orders? Ex Governor Donald L. Kohn, who was there when the Fed approved acquisitions without any comment periods (Inner City Press coverage here) has slapped back on Moore, which some might ascribe to the Deep State, like Reuters regardless of how bad Moore is. Moore wrote that the Fed "should take a page from the playbook of Paul Volcker, the former Fed chairman who battled back rampant inflation in the early 1980s. According to Moore, Volcker's success was rooted in his use of a commodity-price rule that prompted the Fed to lift interest rates when commodity prices were rising and cut them when they were falling.  One problem: It appears Volcker and the Fed never used such a system.  In the 1980s 'there was some discussion of this and some board members paid some attention to commodity prices,' Donald Kohn, a Fed staffer through most of Volcker's tenure and eventually a vice chair of the Fed himself, said. 'But it did not play a central role.'" But how many mergers did Kohn himself rubber stamp? What questions did he ask about predatory lending? Now it emerges that Moore still owes $75,000 in back taxes from 2014.   Records in the Circuit Court of Maryland's Montgomery County reflect that on Jan. 29, 2018, the U.S. government obtained a lien against Moore in the amount of $75,328.80 for the 2014 filing year. Inner City Press this week witnessed a Florida businessman sentenced to 30 months in jail for tax fraud in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by SDNY Judge Ronnie Abrams, a month after art gallery owner Mary Boone got a similar sentence. Troublingly, before the Moore tax lien news emerged, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) has said of Moore, "Very intelligent guy, certainly has had some provocative comments in the past. But having known him for a while, I think he will serve well. I think separating the rhetoric as a commentator from an actual member of the Federal Reserve, you’ll find him to be a very astute, contemplative thinker who has the ability to add value to the board.” How? This Moore quote, after the nomination, should disqualify him: "I’m kind of new to this game, frankly, so I’m going to be on a steep learning curve myself about how the Fed operates, how the Federal Reserve makes its decisions. It’s hard for me to say even what my role will be there, assuming I get confirmed.” Even Greg Mankiw,  an adviser to George W. Bush and Mitt Romney in his 2012 presidential run has come out against Moore, writing that Senators should "do their job" and ensure Moore is not named as a Fed governor.   "Steve is a perfectly amiable guy, but he does not have the intellectual gravitas for this important job," Mankiw said. "It is time for Senators to do their job. Mr. Moore should not be confirmed." We'll have more on this. March 25, 2019

On SDNY Bangladesh Bank Heist Case Federal Reserve Delays to April 2 FOIA Response to  Inner City Press

By Matthew Russell Lee

FEDERAL COURTHOUSE, March 23 – The Bangladeshi Central Bank which was hacked for $81 million in February 2016, on January 31 sued in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Now the first pre-trial conference in the case has been set, for 2 April 2019 before SDNY Judge Lorna G. Schofield. Inner City Press will be there.


To the Federal Reserve, Inner City Press requested records relating to the Fed's role with response officially due in 20 working days. But now this from the Federal Reserve: "Re:       Freedom of Information Act Request No. F-2019-00095     Dear Mr. Lee,     On February 19, 2019, the Board of Governors (“Board”) received your electronic message dated February 17, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, for records regarding the Federal Reserve System's [role] including the FRBNY's role in what is known as the Bangladesh Bank hack or cyber heist and assistance provided to Bangladesh Bank and investigative authorities since the heist, including but limited to in connection with the SDNY case Bangladesh Bank v Rizal Commercial Banking Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-00983.      Pursuant to section (a)(6)(B)(i) of the FOIA, we are extending the period for our response until April 2, 2019, 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 2, 2019, 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." And April 2 is the day of the SDNY hearing. We'll have more on this.

In Dhaka, the Criminal Investigation Department which failed to submit its probe report into the heist on time has now been ordered by Metropolitan Magistrate Sadbir Yasir Ahsan Chowdhury to do so by March 13 in Bangladesh Bank cyber heist case.

In the U.S. District Court for Central California, the unsealed criminal complaint against Park Jin Hyuk lists four email addresses involved in spear-phishing Bangladesh Bank and among others an unnamed "African Bank;" one of these addresses is said to also have communicated with an individual in Australia about importing commodities to North Korea in violations of UN sanctions.

In the SDNY, the case is Bangladesh Bank v Rizal Commercial Banking Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-00983.

March 18, 2019

Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard response to Inner City Press question on information blacked up and no FOIA ruling until after the Fed has approved merger applications: "I certainly can say we will follow up. Generally speaking as I said earlier we think one of the unique and valuable aspects of the CRA is its public nature. That we as examiners and regulators are directed to make ratings and underlying analysis public. And we certainly are looking for ways to have more public input so that we have richer information on performance context, on activities. That public aspect of the CRA is extraordinarily valuable and is one of the things that provides oxygen to that community development ecosystem that I was talking about earlier."

We'll have more on this...

March 11, 2019

As BB&T Tries Taking Over Suntrust Its Susquehanna Abuses Lead To Fine Disparate Lending To Be Raised

By Matthew R. Lee, FOIA docs

SOUTH BRONX, March 6 – When BB&T announced a $66 billion proposal to take over Suntrust Bank, which would close a still undisclosed number of branches and extend BB&T disparate lending patterns, many linked it to deregulatory moves in Washington. These include an assault on the Community Reinvestment Act, being led by Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, who while at OneWest Bank led a false commenting process to push through a merger with CIT Group. (Otting is trying to change the OCC's practices on FOIA fee waivers and is even refusing to consider comments on some Business Combinations. But this BB&T proposal will go to the Fed whose Jerome Powell has vowed, credibly or not, to conduct a full review. And so consider this:  BB&T has been ordered to return $5.2 million to investors, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission, over charges it it acquired misled clients about the cost of advisory services.  The SEC said the firm that BB&T acquired with Susquehanna Bancshares, known then as Valley Forge Asset Management, misled about 1,200 clients into believing they were receiving full service brokerage services at a discount. We'll have more on this.

 Fair Finance Watch, which has been tracking BB&T as well as Otting's and the Federal Reserve's anti-CRA moves, finds that for example in the Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area in 2017 BB&T denied the home purchase mortgage applications of African Americans 2.2 times more frequently than whites, while making only 50 such loans to African Americans, and 23 to Latinos, compared to 458 to whites, all more disparate that other lenders in the market.

  While some portray the proposed merger as a fait accompli, the Fed and OCC must hold public comment periods and consider the banks' CRA records, even as they race to undermine the law. Inner City Press will submit requests under the Freedom of Information ActMarch 4, 2019

In DC Federal Reserve Powell Spins Rubber Stamp Of WSFS Merger Bad Omen on Suntrust

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

SOUTH BRONX, February 27 – Federal Reserve Board chairman Jay Powell told Congress he will run transparent reviews of mergers like BB&T - Suntrust. But on February 27 while still not acting on Inner City Press' Freedom of Information Act request for withheld information, his Fed Board rubber stamped the application by WSFS to buy Beneficial and close at least 25 branches. This was announced online at 3 pm, with a phone message to Fair Finance Watch which protested the deal an hour later. On Capitol Hill Fed chairman Jay Powell was asked, "could you share the criteria that the Fed uses in evaluating bank merger applications?          POWELL:  I'd be glad to. So, it's -- it's quite detailed. There's a -- there's a Federal Reserve section that lays out a lot of detail. And there's also plenty of guidance on -- on that issue. Actually, I -- I have a picture of it here. So, we look at competitive factors, making community factors, managerial resources.          We -- we look at compliance with consumer and fair lending laws and CRA record and that kind of thing. We look at the combined financials of course of the two companies. We also invite public comment.          We have -- we have a pretty thoroughly carefully worked out process. We go through this process carefully for -- for mergers. And look at all those factors and then make a decision." Really? His WSFS order says, "A commenter objected to the proposal alleging, based on data reported under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (“HMDA”)25 for 2017, that WSFS Bank denied home purchase mortgage loans to African American and Latino applicants at significantly higher rates than to white applicants in the Wilmington, DelawareMaryland-New Jersey Metropolitan Division (“MD”) and the Salisbury, MarylandDelaware Metropolitan Statistical Area (“MSA”). The commenter also raised concerns regarding branch closures anticipated in connection with the proposed mergers." The comment, which the Fed seems not to want to name in order to try to deny legal standing, is Fair Finance Watch / Inner City Press.
The Fed wrote, "On January 15, 2019, the Board of Governors (“Board”) received your electronic message dated January 15, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, for all withheld and redacted portions of the submissions by WSFS to the FRS to acquire Beneficial, including but not limited to the absurdly withheld answer to FRB Question 8 about the Community Reinvestme[nt] Act.      Pursuant to section (a)(6)(B)(i) of the FOIA, we are extending the period for our response until February 28, 2019, in order to consult with two or more components of the Board having a substantial interest in the determination of the request." And the day before that extension, the Fed rubber stamped the application. We'll have more on this.

February 25, 2019

  Here's from the Fed: "This is in reference to your email dated February 17, 2019, and received by the Board's Freedom of Information Office on February 19. Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. $ 552, you request:  records regarding the Federal Reserve System's [role] including the FRBNY's role in what is known as the Bangladesh Bank hack or cyber heist and assistance provided to Bangladesh Bank and investigative authorities since the heist, including but limited to in connection with the SDNY case Bangladesh Bank v Rizal Commercial Banking Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-00983.  You have requested expedited treatment for your request. The Board's Rules Regarding Availability of Information ("Board's Rules") require a requester to "demonstrate a compelling need for expedited processing." The Board's Rules provide two methods by which this need may be demonstrated. One requires a showing that "[t]he requester is a representative of the news media ... and there is urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Board activity.” The other requires a showing that “[t]he failure to obtain the records on an expedited basis could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual.” 12 C.F.R. § 261.13(c).  There is nothing in your letter suggesting that there is a compelling need to inform the public on this topic." So the theft of $81 million using the Federal Reserve, there's no compelling need to inform the public?

February 18, 2019
Filed: This is a FOIA request for record regarding the Federal Reserve System's including the FRBNY's role in what is known as the Bangladesh Bank hack or cyber heist and assistance provided to Bangladesh Bank and investigative authorities since the heist, including but limited to in connection with the SDNY case  Bangladesh Bank v Rizal Commercial Banking Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-00983

February 11, 2019

Clearing the decks to try to rubber stamp? The Federal Reserve Board on February 7 announced the execution of the enforcement action listed below:  Consent Prohibition against Alison Keefe, former employee of SunTrust Bank, Atlanta, Georgia, for violating bank overdraft policies for her own benefit. And there's the proposed BB&T merger...

February 4, 2019

To Federal Reserve Cadence Bank Redacted 80% of Letter Now Fed Extends Time To Unredact Any Of It

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, 7/31 story

SOUTH BRONX, January 29 – Cadence Bancorporation which has a disparate lending record while apply to buy State Bank in Georgia and urging faster regulatory approvals, seemingly jumped the gun before having the required Federal Reserve Board approval. Now a new low: a letter that Cadence and its outside counsel, former Federal Reserve lawyer Patricia Robinson, were required to provide a copy to Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch they on purpose only sent by mail (rather than e-mail), then delayed weeks in resending. Photo here. When it arrived, as intended after the Fed's rubber stamp approva, the letter was more than 80% redacted, arguing for a fast approval. This is a new low, and something we will be confronting and combating in 2019. We have begun with this new FOIA request: "This is a FOIA request for the all withheld and redacted portions of the submissions by Cadence to the FRS to acquire State Bank, including but not limited to the outrageously 80% redacted Nov 1, 2018 letter which Cadence' counsel, rather than emailing to us, sent by mail, one and then twice, the second on Dec 14 AFTER the Fed approved the merger. In this connection we are also request any and all FRB records concerning this and all other Cadence submissions in the last year, and any records reflecting regulatory disciplining by the Fed of banks or BHCs for withholding information in bad faith, for the past three years. Each portions of this request can be considered separately so as to ensure receipt as fast as possible of the unredacted, wrongfully delayed Nov 1, 2018 letter." But now on January 29 the Fed extends its time even further past its approval: "January 29, 2019      Mr. Matthew R. Lee  Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch  PO Box 20047  Dag Hammarskjold Station  New York, NY 10017     Re:       Freedom of Information Act Request No. F-2019-00053     Dear Mr. Lee,     On December 28, 2018, the Board of Governors (“Board”) received your electronic message dated December 28, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, for all withheld and redacted portions of the submissions by Cadence to the FRS to acquire State Bank, including but not limited to the outrageously 80% redacted Nov. 1, 2018 letter; and any and all FRB records concerning this and all other Cadence submissions in the last year, and any records reflecting regulatory disciplining by the Fed of banks or BHCs for withholding information in bad faith, for the past three years.     Pursuant to section (a)(6)(B)(i) of the FOIA, we are extending the period for our response until February 12, 2019, 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 February 12, 2019, 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.     Thank you,     Freedom of Information Office  Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System." No thanks.

January 28, 2019

 Just how much of a rubber stamp has the Fed become? Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch timely requested an extension of the Fed's comment period on CenterState Bank - NCC. The Fed's Deputy Secretary nearly automatically denied it in a letter dated January 15, saying that ICP has only until January 21 to comment. But the letter was never emailed to Inner City Press, instead sent by snail mail that arrived AFTER the January 21 deadline. Is it any wonder that a certain law firm, flush with former Fed lawyers, is bragging about how easy it is getting for them at the Fed? We'll have more on this.

January 21, 2019

Amid Targeting of Community Reinvestment Act Fed Delays on FOIA for WSFS No Notices Since Dec 21

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

SOUTH BRONX, January 15 – The US Treasury Department is the next stage of a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt when he was at the US Environmental Protection Agency or Ryan Zinke at Interior, is Comptroller of the Current Joseph Otting. On September 12 Fair Finance Watch (and on FOIA, Inner City Press) commented to the OCC, here. At the November 19 deadline, not yet posted was Inner City Press' November 17 fourth comment, just as Otting's OCC absurdly waited 13 days to try to rule it does not have to consider Fair Finance Watch's comments on WSFS Bank's application to acquire Beneficial. Now, after the OCC gleefully closed its comment period on that, WSFS on December 13 announced it will close 25 branches. One would think Otting would have to re-open the comment period. But that's not how Otting rolls. And the Fed, on FOIA and now public notice, is absurd. It has allowed WSFS to withhold its answer on CRA, in a letter it sent late to Inner City Press, while on January 15 the most recent H2A list of applications the public has 30 days to comment on is dated December 21 - nearly 30 days old. And this is not due to the shutdown - the Fed h as its own money. Inner City Press on January 15 submitted: "a FOIA request for all withheld and redacted portions of the submissions by WSFS to the FRS to acquire Beneficial, including but not limited to the absurdly withheld answer to FRB Question 8 about the Community Reinvestment Act ("See Confidential Exhibit 7") in the supposedly New Years Day letter by WSFS which was not emailed to us but rather put in the mail, a week later. (In light of the absuridity we are challenging all withholdings.) In this connection we are also request any and all FRB records concerning this and all other WSFS submissions in the last year, and any records reflecting regulatory disciplining by the Fed of banks or BHCs for withholding information in bad faith, for the past three years. Each portions of this request can be considered separately so as to ensure receipt as fast as possible of wrongfully withheld information so we can comment on it."

January 14, 2019

Amid Targeting of Community Reinvestment Act Centerstate Bank NCC Takeover and Withholding Challenged on Disparate Lending

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

NEW YORK CITY, January 11 – The US Treasury Department is the next stage of a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. On January 7, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press filed comments and a Freedom of Information Act request with the Federal Reserve on Centerstate Bank's application to acquire National Bank of Commerce, despite Centerstate's disparate lending record, see below. On January 11, having been sent documents showing that Centerstate is trying to withhold most of its exhibits, Inner City Press filed "This is a second timely comment on the over-withheld Applications of Centerstate Bank Corporation, Winter Haven, Florida to merge with National Commerce Corporation, and thereby indirectly acquire National Bank of Commerce.    On January 7 Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch submitted an initial comment and requested a copy of the full Application, under FOIA and through the Reserve Bank. So far, what has been sent to Inner City Press has no portion at all of the only substantive Exhibits, B, C and D. The only Exhibits provided are the merger agreements and the form of newspaper notice.  This is an abuse, and the comment period must be extended so that comment on the wrongfully withheld exhibits can be made. It is impossible to believe that there are no segregable non exempt portions of those exhibits. Inner City Press already has a FOIA request pending and so is not confusing the matter by submitting another FOIA request.  The FRB should not countenance such strategic secrecy by this applicant. This is a specific timely request that the comment period be extended and the information provided.

January 7, 2019

As Federal Reserve Chair Powell Says Would Not Resign If Asked Contrast to FOIA Denials and Merger Rubber Stamping

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

NEW YORK CITY, January 4 – Today Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell said he would not resign from his post if asked by President Donald Trump. He said this in response to a question at an American Economic Association event in Atlanta. It sounds transparent - but his Federal Reserve, at least on complying with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), is not transparent. And Powell was the Governor in charge of denying the Press' FOIA appeals, which he did time after time. The context: the US Treasury Department is the next stage of a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt when he was at the US Environmental Protection Agency or Ryan Zinke at Interior, is Comptroller of the Current Joseph Otting. On September 12 Fair Finance Watch (and on FOIA, Inner City Press) commented to the OCC, here. At the November 19 deadline, not yet posted was Inner City Press' November 17 fourth comment, just as Otting's OCC absurdly waited 13 days to try to rule it does not have to consider Fair Finance Watch's comments on WSFS Bank's application to acquire Beneficial. Now, after the OCC gleefully closed its comment period on that, WSFS on December 13 announced it will close 25 branches. One would think Otting would have to re-open the comment period. But that's not how Otting rolls. And the Fed, on FOIA, is absurd. On January 2 the Federal Reserve unilaterally extended its time to respond to Inner City Press' FOIA request about WSFS and CRA - without any commitment to no haul off and rubber stamp the application. Here's what the Fed wrote: "Mr. Matthew R. Lee  Inner City Press  P.O. Box 20047  Dag Hammarskjold Station  New York, NY 10017     Re:       Freedom of Information Act Request No. F-2019-00040     Dear Mr. Lee,     On December 3, 2018, the Board of Governors (“Board”) received your electronic message dated December 1, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, for all withheld portions of the applications by WSFS to acquire Beneficial, including but not limited to presumptively mis-labeled “Confidential” exhibits about WSFS's CRA program (“Confidential” Exhibit 9)... Pursuant to section (a)(6)(B)(i) of the FOIA, we are extending the period for our response until January 16, 2019, 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 January 16, 2019, 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.     Thank you,     Freedom of Information Office  Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System."

December 31, 2018

To Federal Reserve Cadence Bank Redacts 80% of Letter Urging Fast Approval and Withholds from Inner City Press

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, 7/31 story

SOUTH BRONX, December 28 – Cadence Bancorporation which has a disparate lending record while apply to buy State Bank in Georgia and urging faster regulatory approvals, seemingly jumped the gun before having the required Federal Reserve Board approval. Now a new low: a letter that Cadence and its outside counsel, former Federal Reserve lawyer Patricia Robinson, were required to provide a copy to Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch they on purpose only sent by mail (rather than e-mail), then delayed weeks in resending. Photo here. When it arrived, as intended after the Fed's rubber stamp approva, the letter was more than 80% redacted, arguing for a fast approval. This is a new low, and something we will be confronting and combating in 2019. We have begun with this new FOIA request: "This is a FOIA request for the all withheld and redacted portions of the submissions by Cadence to the FRS to acquire State Bank, including but not limited to the outrageously 80% redacted Nov 1, 2018 letter which Cadence' counsel, rather than emailing to us, sent by mail, one and then twice, the second on Dec 14 AFTER the Fed approved the merger. In this connection we are also request any and all FRB records concerning this and all other Cadence submissions in the last year, and any records reflecting regulatory disciplining by the Fed of banks or BHCs for withholding information in bad faith, for the past three years. Each portions of this request can be considered separately so as to ensure receipt as fast as possible of the unredacted, wrongfully delayed Nov 1, 2018 letter." The Fed in a December 7 order shrugged it all off...

December 24, 2018

An absurdity, or contempt by the Fed for the public and process: AFTER the Fed on Dec 7 approved Synovus' application, this:

Re:       Freedom of Information Act Request No. F-2019-00031

Dear Mr. Lee,

On November 13, 2018, the Board of Governors (“Board”) received your electronic message dated November 10, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, for all withheld portions of the applications and applications additional information submitted by Synovus to acquire FCB Financil including but not limited to presumptively mis-labeled “Confidential” exhibits as “Confidential” Exhibit 1 to Synovus' October 31 response, which appears to be personnel to be integrated into fair lending, while Synovus discloses its own staff's names, and for all records reflecting FRS communications with Synovus or FCB Financial or their affiliates for the past twelve (12) months.

Pursuant to section (a)(6)(B)(i) of the FOIA, we are extending the period for our response until December 27, 2018, 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 December 27, 2018, 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.

  Yeah, the law...

 December 17, 2018


Targeting of Community Reinvestment Act by Otting Includes Excluding Comment on 25 Branch Closings by WSFS

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, story, FOIA docs

SOUTH BRONX, December 15 – The US Treasury Department is the next stage of a process to try to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Docket file here. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt when he was at the US Environmental Protection Agency or Ryan Zinke at Interior, is Comptroller of the Current Joseph Otting. On September 12 Fair Finance Watch (and on FOIA, Inner City Press) commented to the OCC, here. At the November 19 deadline, not yet posted was Inner City Press' November 17 fourth comment, just as Otting's OCC absurdly waited 13 days to try to rule it does not have to consider Fair Finance Watch's comments on WSFS Bank's application to acquire Beneficial. Now, after the OCC gleefully closed its comment period on that, WSFS on December 13 announced it will close 25 branches. One would think Otting would have to re-open the comment period. But that's not how Otting rolls. Here's WSFS: "WSFS Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: WSFS) (“WSFS”) and Beneficial Bancorp, Inc. (Nasdaq: BNCL) (“Beneficial”), jointly announced a retail banking office optimization plan that aligns with the previously reported intent to merge Beneficial Bank into WSFS Bank.  The plan includes the consolidation of 25% of the combined Beneficial and WSFS retail banking offices due to an overall decline in branch transactional activity, Customers’ rapid adoption and usage of digital services, geographic overlap and optimization opportunities.  To continue delivering on its mission of “We Stand For Service” amidst evolving Customer expectations, WSFS also committed to reinvest an incremental $32 million of the estimated cost savings from the retail office optimization plan into a five-year transformational investment in technology and delivery systems to create a top-tier physical and digital servicing platform that will significantly enhance Customer experiences across all business lines.

Teams from both institutions conducted an extensive analysis of the combined franchise to study market overlap, transaction trends, space considerations, cost of ownership, business opportunities, the brand experience, visibility from high-traffic roadways, and the accessibility of each location.  WSFS leveraged this due diligence to determine that it will consolidate 14 Beneficial and 11 WSFS retail banking offices of the combined network.  WSFS also plans to sell five additional  retail banking offices located on the outer edges of the combined core footprint. Most closures will occur at the conversion of Beneficial Bank into WSFS Bank, which is expected to occur in August 2019.

Eighty percent (80%) of the consolidating retail offices are less than three miles from remaining locations, including nearly a third that are less than a mile away.  WSFS is offering jobs to all Beneficial and WSFS team members of the consolidating banking offices within the Retail Division of WSFS Bank.  WSFS will also raise the minimum wage across the combined organization to WSFS’ current minimum of $15 an hour.

The planned combination and ongoing delivery transformation will make WSFS the largest, premier, longest-standing, locally-headquartered community bank for the Greater Delaware Valley with approximately $13 billion in assets and growing.

“We have worked quickly, but diligently, on our plan to combine our two institutions, which included identifying the retail space that will best help us deliver top-tier quality services and solutions for Customers across the Delaware Valley,” said Rodger Levenson, WSFS’ Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, who will become President and Chief Executive Officer on January 1, 2019.  “This retail banking office optimization initiative and our planned technology reinvestment, combined with a larger balance sheet and an intimate knowledge of the market, affirms our unique position to fill a long-standing gap between big banks and smaller community banks in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington MSA.”

WSFS has posted on its website (wsfsbank.com/beneficial) the 25 retail banking offices that are slated to consolidate as part of the retail banking office optimization plan.  WSFS will begin communicating these consolidations and other merger-related information to Beneficial and WSFS Customers in the first quarter of 2019 after the combination receives regulatory approval and the deal closes."  The lists are by country, only for download.
But Inner City Press has timely protested WSFS to the Federal Reserve - and has now found out that WSFS is even trying to withhold its CRA information from the public, photo here. So Inner City Press has submitted this Freedom of Information Act request: " This is a FOIA request for the all withheld portions of the applications by WSFS to acquire Beneficial, including but not limited to presumptively mis-labeled “Confidential” exhibits about WSFS's CRA program (“Confidential” Exhibit 9), (Beneficial's subsidiaries (“Confidential” Exhibit 3), Board of Directors resolutions, due diligence (“Confidential” Exhibit 10), operating economy / cost savings (there are branch closings projected), names of prospective managers (ages, requested on application, apparently not provided), and for all records reflecting FRS communications with WSFS or Beneficial or their affiliates for the past twelve (12) months."

December 3, 2018

The Federal Reserve, it seems, doesn't review banks' requests for confidential treatment. So "This is a FOIA request for the all withheld portions of the applications by WSFS to acquire Beneficial, including but not limited to presumptively mis-labeled “Confidential” exhibits about WSFS's CRA program (“Confidential” Exhibit 9), (Beneficial's subsidiaries (“Confidential” Exhibit 3), Board of Directors resolutions, due diligence (“Confidential” Exhibit 10), operating economy / cost savings (there are branch closings projected), names of prospective managers (ages, requested on application, apparently not provided)"

November 26, 2018

Cadence Bank Urges OCC To Speed Regulatory Approvals While Withholding Info on State Bank in Georgia

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, 7/31 story

SOUTH BRONX, November 20 – Cadence Bancorporation which has a disparate lending record has applied to buy State Bank in Georgia, and has seemingly jumped the gun before having the required Federal Reserve Board approval. On October 18, Fair Finance Watch submitted a timely comment to the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, below - and got back a copy of a letter from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas forwarding its comment to Cadence's outside counsel at Wachtell Lipton -- Patricia Robinson, who used to be with the Fed's Legal Division. Inner City Press will have more on that. Now on November 20 the Fed has extended its time to respond to Inner City Press' FOIA request, the day after Cadence commented to Joseph Otting's OCC's Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking urging his OCC to "make the application process for expansionary actions less contentious." How about not making frivolous requests to have regulators withhold information until they hope the "expansionary action" is consummated?  Here's from FFW's comment: "This is a request for a full copy of, and a timely first comment on, the Applications of Cadence Bancorporation, Houston, Texas; to acquire State Bank Financial Corporation, Atlanta, Georgia, and thereby indirectly acquire State Bank and Trust Company, Macon, Georgia

As an initial matter, this is a request that the FRS immediately send by email to Inner City Press all non-exempt portions of the applications / notices for which the Applicants have requested confidential treatment.

Fair Finance Watch has been tracking Cadence Bank: In 2017 in the Dallas, Texas MSA for convention home purchase loans, Cadence made 99 such loans to whites - and NONE, not a single origination, to African Americans.

In 2017 in the Houston Texas MSA for convention home purchase loans, Cadence made 236 such loans to whites - and only 15 to African Americans, and only 23 to Latinos. This is not in keeping with the aggregate, which made 37,128 such loans to whites, 3151 to African Americans and 8215 to Latinos.

In 2017 in the Birmingham, Alabama MSA for convention home purchase loans, Cadence made 66 such loans to whites - and only ONE to African Americans. Even combining in Table 4-1, it was 79 home purchase loans to whites and only THREE to African Americans.

This should also be address in this proceeding, including at the requested evidentiary hearing:

“Cadence Bank - Racist manager

2800 Post Oak Blvd Suite 101, Houston, TX 77056, USA

I had my 2 business accounts at the Williams tower location, I tried talking to the manager about small business loans she always avoided me looking at me kind of weird whenever I done withdrawals she always asked me why I'm taking money out after 3 months she sent me a Leter saying she's going to be closing my account because I take money out ones a week for payroll and she didn't like that.”

Inner City Press is also concerned about this statement imply gun-jumping, in the investors' call announcing the proposal, here.

Paul Murphy: “Oh boy, you’re right. It’s not in the model. It’s significant. I mean, there is just a lot of overlap. I’ve got a prospect for AloStar. I’m going to see them this afternoon. We can start it on a great potential new piece of business for them today. And there will be more and more of that.”

ICP is requesting evidentiary hearings and that this proposed acquisition, on the current record, not be approved. There is no public benefit."

November 19, 2018

Step by step from the Fed on Synovus: "In connection with the application filed under Section 3 of the Bank Holding Company Act by Synovus Financial Corp., Columbus, Georgia, to merge with FCB Financial Holdings, Inc. and thereby indirectly acquire Florida Community Bank, N.A., both of Weston, Florida, and the application filed under section 18(c) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act by Synovus Bank, Columbus, Georgia, to merge with Florida Community Bank, please respond to the additional question below.

Provide updated pro forma consolidated financial statements and capital ratios as of September 30, 2018.

In accordance with the Board’s procedures regarding ex parte communications, a copy of the attached request will be sent to the commenters in this case.  Please provide a copy of the public portion of your response (together with any attachments) directly to the commenters.  Any information for which you desire confidential treatment should be so labeled and separately bound in accordance with the Board’s rules regarding confidential treatment of information at 12 CFR 261.15. "

November 12, 2018

  Inner City Press has had to FOIA the Fed: "This is a FOIA request for the all withheld portions of the applications and applications additional information submitted by Synovus to acquire FCB Financil including but not limited to presumptively mis-labeled “Confidential” exhibits as as “Confidential” Exhibit 1 to Synovus' October 31 response, which appears to be personnel to be integrated into fair lending, while Synovus discloses its own staff's names..". This is scam.

November 5, 2018

  Synovus has told the Fed, after Fair Finance Watch's protest, that "since the 2017 CRA Performance Evaluation, a Nashville area branch that was previously classified as being located in a middle income area was reclassified to being located in a moderate income branch." Wow, that is some great performance.

October 29, 2018

The Fed has written to Synovus again: "In connection with the application filed under section 3 of the Bank Holding Company Act by
Synovus Financial Corp. (“Synovus Financial”), Columbus, Georgia, to merge with FCB
Financial Holdings, Inc. (“FCB Financial Holdings”) and thereby indirectly acquire Florida
Community Bank, N.A. (“Florida Community Bank”), both of Weston, Florida, and the
application filed under section 18(c) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act by Synovus Bank,
Columbus, Georgia, to merge with Florida Community Bank, the following additional
information is requested. Supporting documentation should be provided as appropriate.
1. In the submission dated October 19, 2018 (“AI Response”), in response to question 6 of
the Board’s October 16, 2018 additional information request (“AI Request”), Synovus
Financial represented that the CRA and consumer compliance-related (including fair
lending) governance and oversight systems described in the AI Response would be
adopted by the combined bank upon consummation. Indicate on a pro forma basis, the
key individuals who would be responsible for providing such oversight, including
management, of these programs, and their qualifications. For each key individual,
specify the organization he or she currently works for (e.g., Synovus Bank, Florida
Community Bank, or another entity), as well as his or her current position and title at that
organization. Finally, indicate to what extent Synovus Bank’s consumer compliance
(including fair lending) program would be adopted at the merged bank following
consummation of the proposed transaction.
2. Question 1 of the AI Request included a request for an “update on Synovus Bank’s
[CRA] activities since its November 2017 CRA Performance Evaluation and Florida
Community Bank’s CRA activities since its March 2017 CRA Performance Evaluation,
in general, and in particular with respect to the assessment areas listed as a concern by
either commenter” to the extent that information had not already been provided in the
application or in any other submission. Provide this update with respect to small business
lending in the following areas (and their corresponding assessment areas) raised as a
concern "
October 22, 2018


Cadence Bank Bid For State Bank in Georgia Challenged by Fair Finance Watch to Fed Revolving Door

By Matthew R. Lee, Video, 7/31 story

SOUTH BRONX, October 18 – Cadence Bancorporation which has a disparate lending record has applied to buy State Bank in Georgia, and has seemingly jumped the gun before having the required Federal Reserve Board approval. On October 18, Fair Finance Watch submitted a timely comment to the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, below - and got back a copy of a letter from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas forwarding its comment to Cadence's outside counsel at Wachtell Lipton -- Patricia Robinson, who used to be with the Fed's Legal Division. Inner City Press will have more on that. For now, here's from FFW's comment: "This is a request for a full copy of, and a timely first comment on, the Applications of Cadence Bancorporation, Houston, Texas; to acquire State Bank Financial Corporation, Atlanta, Georgia, and thereby indirectly acquire State Bank and Trust Company, Macon, Georgia

As an initial matter, this is a request that the FRS immediately send by email to Inner City Press all non-exempt portions of the applications / notices for which the Applicants have requested confidential treatment.

Fair Finance Watch has been tracking Cadence Bank: In 2017 in the Dallas, Texas MSA for convention home purchase loans, Cadence made 99 such loans to whites - and NONE, not a single origination, to African Americans.

In 2017 in the Houston Texas MSA for convention home purchase loans, Cadence made 236 such loans to whites - and only 15 to African Americans, and only 23 to Latinos. This is not in keeping with the aggregate, which made 37,128 such loans to whites, 3151 to African Americans and 8215 to Latinos.

In 2017 in the Birmingham, Alabama MSA for convention home purchase loans, Cadence made 66 such loans to whites - and only ONE to African Americans. Even combining in Table 4-1, it was 79 home purchase loans to whites and only THREE to African Americans.

This should also be address in this proceeding, including at the requested evidentiary hearing:

“Cadence Bank - Racist manager

2800 Post Oak Blvd Suite 101, Houston, TX 77056, USA

I had my 2 business accounts at the Williams tower location, I tried talking to the manager about small business loans she always avoided me looking at me kind of weird whenever I done withdrawals she always asked me why I'm taking money out after 3 months she sent me a Leter saying she's going to be closing my account because I take money out ones a week for payroll and she didn't like that.”

Inner City Press is also concerned about this statement imply gun-jumping, in the investors' call announcing the proposal, here.

Paul Murphy: “Oh boy, you’re right. It’s not in the model. It’s significant. I mean, there is just a lot of overlap. I’ve got a prospect for AloStar. I’m going to see them this afternoon. We can start it on a great potential new piece of business for them today. And there will be more and more of that.”

ICP is requesting evidentiary hearings and that this proposed acquisition, on the current record, not be approved. There is no public benefit."

October 15, 2018

 From a Fed approval order last week : "The HHI in this market would increase by 261 points, from 1604 to 1865."

October 8, 2018

Allan Kamensky
Synovus Financial Corporation
General Counsel & Secretary
1111 Bay Avenue, Suite 500
Columbus, Georgia 31901
Dear Mr. Kamensky:
This refers to the application by (1) Synovus Financial Corp., Columbus, Georgia to acquire
FCB Financial Holdings, Inc. and thereby acquire Florida Community Bank, N.A., both of
Weston, Florida (Bank), pursuant to section 3(a)(3) and 3(a)(5) of the Bank Holding Company
Act; and (2) Synovus Bank, Columbus, Georgia to merge with Bank, pursuant to section 18(c) of
the Federal Deposit Insurance Act. Enclosed is a copy of a letter received from Fair Finance
Watch and Inner City Press commenting on the application.
Neither the Bank Holding Company Act nor the Board's Regulation Y requires a response from
Applicant. However, if you wish to respond, your comments should be received by this Reserve
Bank within eight business days from the date of this letter.

October 1, 2018

Now

The Federal Reserve Board on Thursday announced the termination of the enforcement action listed below:

Presidential Holdings, Inc., Bethesda, Maryland
Supervisory Agreement, issued by the Office of Thrift Supervision, dated May 3, 2010 (PDF)
Terminated September 25, 2018

September 24, 2018

President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:
Jean Nellie Liang of Illinois, to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for the remainder of a 14-year term expiring January 31, 2024. Ms. Liang is a Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution and a Visiting Scholar at the International Monetary Fund’s Monetary and Capital Markets Department.  Previously, Ms. Liang served as Director of the Division of Financial Stability at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.  Ms. Liang is a member of the Congressional Budget Office’s Panel of Economic Advisors and was a lecturer at the Yale School of Management.  She earned her B.A. in economics from the University of Notre Dame and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. 
She wrote about subprime...

September 17, 2018

  The Federal Reserve is, for now, withholding CRA information under this statement, "Exhibit H include information not disclosed to the general public. Competitors of Applicant should not be allowed access to this information because Applicant cannot access its competitors' strategic practices. This information could provide competitors with valuable insights into Applicant's business focus and plan of operations."  We'll have more on this.

September 10, 2018

From Fed Reserve Bank: If you seek any “confidential” information regarding the application under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), you must submit a request to the Board’s Freedom of Information Office.