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June 18, 2018

As Federal Reserve Rubber Stamps Merger By Ameris Jerome Powell Omits Regulatory Duties

By Matthew R. Lee, Patreon

NEW YORK, June 14 – The bank with the worst record in the United States for gouging consumers with overdraft fees, Ameris, has nevertheless gotten a rubber stamp approval from the Federal Reserve Board, to buy Hamilton State Bancshares in Georgia. Fair Finance Watch submitted formal opposition with the Fed, citing the gouging, Ameris' disparate mortgage lending record in Atlanta, Georgia and Florida, and the Community Reinvestment Act. See below. Earlier this year Ameris admitted in a responses that one of its filed application was false when it said it would continue the CRA policies of Atlantic - see full response on Patreon, here, question 3. Still, the Fed's June 13 order blandly recites " a commenter objected to the proposal on the basis of alleged disparities in the number of home mortgage loans made by Ameris Bank to, and/or in the rate of denials for home mortgage applications from, African Americans and/or Hispanics, as compared to whites, in Atlanta, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; and Tallahassee, Florida, based on data reported under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975 (“HMDA”). The commenter also alleged that Ameris Bank engaged in predatory collection of overdraft fees and expressed concern over Ameris’s recent record of mergers and acquisitions." The concerns continue to grow.  Inner City Press  requested records under the Freedom of Information Act - but the Fed these days can take months to respond. On June 13, alongside the Ameris approval, Fed chair Jerome Powell answered a pre-picked question that the Fed's job involves interest rates and maximum employment. He did not mention the Fed's bank regulatory responsibilities. Seems he thinks someone else is doing that - but that someone is no longer the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, nor the OCC.

June 11, 2018

  Now there's a 60 day comment period on what's called the "proposal to simplify and tailor 'Volcker rule,'" here.
June 4, 2018

Weakening of Volcker Rule Promoted By Fed's Powell and Quarles Without Wells Fargo Recusal

By Matthew R. Lee, Audio

NEW YORK, May 30 – The US Federal Reserve Board, with more than half of its seats vacant and one of its three Governors conflicted out on Wells Fargo now wants to weaken the so-called Volcker Rule, for the benefit of the largest banks. This is the same Federal Reserve which recently delayed for months in responding to Inner City Press' request under the Freedom of Information Act, and which has taken to rubber stamping mergers even by banks with interest rates described as usurious, like Ameris Bank. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said, "Firms that do more modest amounts of trading will face fewer requirements." Randal K. Quarles, the Governor ostensibly recused on Wells Fargo which has an interest in the Volcker Rule said "I view this proposal as an important milestone in comprehensive Volcker rule reform, but not the completion of our work." There is a commnt period, here. We'll have more on this. When the International Monetary Fund reviews developed countries' banking sectors, particularly in Europe, some banks' participation in predatory lending gets over looked. Consider Deutsche Bank, and the IMF's May 14 assessment of the Germany banking sector, which Inner City Press published below when it was  just out from under embargo. Now consider the US Federal Reserve's solicitude, expressed by new Governor Randal Quarles: "Willingness by the United States to reconsider its calibration may prompt other jurisdictions to do the same, which could better the prospects of successful resolution for both foreign G-SIBs operating in the United States, and for U.S. G-SIBs operating abroad... Any such balance is likely to be improvable with experience, reflection, and debate. We are interested in views from the firms and the public on how the regimes can be improved." This while draft legislation pends that would allow global banks to low-ball their US holdings, and US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting targets the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977.  We'll have more on this. From the IMF on May 14 "The German banking and life insurance sectors should accelerate their restructuring to bolster profitability and reduce risks. In the banking sector, the regulatory capital ratio has increased, but the cost-to-income ratio and leverage remain high. The high cost structure, alongside low net interest margins, provisions for compliance violations, and the need to adjust to the new regulatory environment, continue to weigh on profitability. Restructuring is ongoing in the banking sector, but the process must be accelerated through faster implementation of restructuring plans, continued development of fee-based income, and further consolidation. In the life insurance sector, low interest rates have dented solvency ratios, and further progress is needed to reduce reliance on guaranteed return products. In this context, supervisory attention to interest rate risk and progress in implementing restructuring plans both in banking and insurance should continue." What about abuse of consumers, participation in predatory lending schemes and other abuses? What about Greece? What about Deutsche bank as the riskiest bank? May 28, 2018

We note that in Federal Reserve governor Brainard's speech on CRA there is no mention of enforcement of CRA, or of the word "merger" or "expansion" or "application" -- we'll have more on this. https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/speech/brainard20180518a.htm

May 21, 2018

De-Regulation of Global Banks Pitched by Fed's Quarles After As IMF Ignores Predatory Deutsche

By Matthew R. Lee, Audio

NEW YORK, May 14 – When the International Monetary Fund reviews developed countries' banking sectors, particularly in Europe, some banks' participation in predatory lending gets over looked. Consider Deutsche Bank, and the IMF's May 14 assessment of the Germany banking sector, which Inner City Press published below when it was  just out from under embargo. Now consider the US Federal Reserve's solicitude, expressed by new Governor Randal Quarles: "Willingness by the United States to reconsider its calibration may prompt other jurisdictions to do the same, which could better the prospects of successful resolution for both foreign G-SIBs operating in the United States, and for U.S. G-SIBs operating abroad... Any such balance is likely to be improvable with experience, reflection, and debate. We are interested in views from the firms and the public on how the regimes can be improved." This while draft legislation pends that would allow global banks to low-ball their US holdings, and US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting targets the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977.  We'll have more on this. From the IMF on May 14 "The German banking and life insurance sectors should accelerate their restructuring to bolster profitability and reduce risks. In the banking sector, the regulatory capital ratio has increased, but the cost-to-income ratio and leverage remain high. The high cost structure, alongside low net interest margins, provisions for compliance violations, and the need to adjust to the new regulatory environment, continue to weigh on profitability. Restructuring is ongoing in the banking sector, but the process must be accelerated through faster implementation of restructuring plans, continued development of fee-based income, and further consolidation. In the life insurance sector, low interest rates have dented solvency ratios, and further progress is needed to reduce reliance on guaranteed return products. In this context, supervisory attention to interest rate risk and progress in implementing restructuring plans both in banking and insurance should continue." What about abuse of consumers, participation in predatory lending schemes and other abuses? What about Greece? What about Deutsche bank as the riskiest bank? May 14, 2018

On Ameris, the Fed recited "a commenter objected to the proposal on the basis of alleged disparities in the number of home mortgage loans to and/or in the rate of denials for home mortgage applications from African Americans and/or Hispanics, as compared to whites,
in Atlanta, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; and Tallahassee, Florida, based on data reported under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975. The commenter also alleged that Ameris Bank engaged in predatory collection of overdraft fees and expressed concern over Ameris’s recent record of mergers and acquisitions and planned branch closures." That's right - and we'll stay on this.

May 7, 2018

On May 1, the Fed announced " Federal Reserve Board on Tuesday announced that it has fined The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., $54.75 million for the firm's unsafe and unsound practices in its foreign exchange (FX) trading business." Sounds more like April 1, April Fool's Day - Goldman doesn't even flinch at this size of fine...

April 30, 2018

The Treasury Department recommends that the Federal Reserve (and FDIC) follow the OCC is removing one of the only teeth the CRA, denying applications after a needs to improve CRA rating. The Fed better not...

April 23, 2017

A Fed proposal introduces a stress capital buffer (SCB) a concept designed to produce capital requirements for large banking organizations that are firm-specific and risk-sensitive. “Our regulatory measures are most effective when they are as simple and transparent as possible, and this proposal significantly simplifies our capital regime while maintaining its strength,” the Fed’s Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles said. “It is a good example of how our work can be done more efficiently and effectively, and in a way that bolsters the resiliency of the financial system.” Quarles has recused himself from decisions on Wells Fargo...

April 16, 2018

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta has asked some questions of Ameris, on Hamilton - without addressing or acting on Ameris' false statements in the other still pending proceeding. We'll have more on this.

April 9, 2018

At NY Fed, Dudley Replaced By SF's Williams, Who Oversaw Wells Fargo's Many Frauds

By Matthew R. Lee, Patreon

NEW YORK, April 3 – After much focus on who at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York should replace outgoing William Dudley, on April 3 the Fed did the expected, picking insider John Williams from the San Fransisco Fed who oversaw Wells Fargo's many frauds. We'll have more on this. This comes days after Dudley himself on March 30 misrepresented the bill S.2155 as offering relief to "small banks" -- actually, it's banks up to $250 billion in assets, and foreign mega-banks larger than that. Dudley's misleading comment came on the New York public radio show of Brian Lehrer, who erroneously said that the bill has been enacted "by Congress" when it has only passed the Senate. Meanwhile everyone from Mayor Bill de Blasio to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has been saying the Fed's process for naming the President of its Reserve Bank is not transparent enough. Now that the expected Williams has been picked, what next?

April 1, 2018

... Collusion between payday lenders and national banks has been invited by US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, under whose watch OneWest Bank generated fake public comments urging approval of its merger with CIT. Otting has lifted the 2002 consent order prohibiting ACE Cash Express from "partnering" with national banks. Speaking earlier in, where else, Las Vegas Otting said, "We think there’s a big market there that’s underserved, that really has the ability to be served by capital going forward." When he was selling off OneWest, those whose e-mail addresses and identities were stolen in order to promote the merger were thanked by David Finnegan of the OCC Otting now runs. Finnegan then asked OneWest's and Otting's lawyer Stephen M. Salley at Sullivan & Cromwell to explain. We'll have more on this - there's a lot of explaining to do. On March 14 as what was presented as a community bank regulatory relief bill was passed in the U.S. Senate 67-31 as S.2155, along with undercutting fair lending enforcement the bill would provide particular benefit to the US subsidiaries of some of the largest global banks. These include at least one which helped evade North Korea sanctions: Bank of Tokyo - Mitsubishi...

March 26, 2018

Fed-speak / Fed - spun “A commenter objected to the proposal alleging that, based on data reported under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975 (“HMDA”), Charles Schwab Bank lent only to white borrowers with incomes above 120 percent of the area median income in the Reno, Nevada, Metropolitan Statistical Area..The commenter also criticized the workplace benefit plans of Charles Schwab, noting that employees of Charles Schwab had filed a lawsuit alleging that the 401(k) plans of Charles Schwab have expensive fees and poor performance that have benefited Charles Schwab at the expense of its employees. See Severson v. Charles Schwab Corp., No. 4:17-cv-00285-CW (N.D. Cal. 2017). Charles Schwab has denied any wrongdoing. The allegations regarding the performance of 401(k) plans and fees charged by plan sponsors are matters that are reviewed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. See 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. The allegations are currently under review in the appropriate legal forum, and action on this proposal would not interfere with the court’s ability to resolve the pending litigation. See Natcom Bancshares Inc., FRB Order No. 2017-37 at 6 n.18 (December 18, 2017); M&P Community Bancshares, Inc., 92 Federal Reserve Bulletin C156, C156 n.7 (2006).”

March 19, 2018

Tthe bank with the worst record in the United States for gouging consumers with overdraft fees, Ameris, has applied to the Federal Reserve to buy  Hamilton State Bancshares - which, in the Atlanta MSA in 2016 for home purchase loans received 52 applications from whites, originated 37 of those as loans, denying only 12 applications. But for African Americans for home purchase loans, Hamilton State Bank denied every single on of the five applications that, based on its disparate marketing, it received or acknowledged. This is outrageous as is Ameris' record, and mis-statements.   Ameris when it applied to buy Atlantic Coast Financial Corporation, and thereby directly acquire shares of Atlantic Coast Bank, falsely stated in its application that it would continue the CRA policies of Atlantic - see response to AI question 3, incorporated herein by reference. On the current record, public evidentiary hearings are needed on Ameris' Hamilton (and Atlanic) applications....

March 12, 2018

All you need in a crazen headline  "Federal Reserve Board announces it will not object to the capital plan resubmitted by Capital One Financial Corporation"

March 5, 2018

   So new Fed chairman Jay Powell was questioned about the Community Reinvestment Act in the House Financial Services Committee last week - as if he were coming in fresh, and hadn't for some time been rubber-stamping contested mergers and denying FOIA appeals to get more information...

February 26, 2018

After ICP Protest to Ameris Bank Merger With Atlantic Coast, Ameris Admits Application False

By Matthew R. Lee, Patreon

NEW YORK, February 24 – The bank with the worst record in the United States for gouging consumers with overdraft fees, Ameris, has applied to the Federal Reserve to buy Atlantic Coast Bank in Florida, and thereafter Hamilton State Bancshares. On January 29, Fair Finance Watch filed formal opposition to both with the Federal Reserve, citing the gouging, Ameris' disparate mortgage lending record in Atlanta, Georgia and Florida, and the Community Reinvestment Act. See below. It turns out, from Ameris' response, that its application was false when it said it would continue the CRA policies of Atlantic - see full response on Patreon, here, question 3. Inner City Press has requested records under the Freedom of Information Act. Now the Federal Reserve has asked Ameris a series of question, full copy here on Patreon

February 19, 2018

US Bancorp Slapped by Federal Reserve for Money Laundering, Fee Gouger Ameris Still Silent

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, February 15 – Less than a week after the Federal Reserve capped Wells Fargo's growth for compliance violations, on February 15 the Fed and DOJ hit US Bancorp: "The Federal Reserve Board on Thursday ordered Minneapolis-based US Bancorp to improve risk management and oversight of its banking subsidiaries' compliance with U.S. economic sanctions, and Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money-laundering requirements. The Board also required US Bancorp to ensure that firm personnel make timely and complete disclosures to regulatory authorities and imposed a $15 million penalty. Under the terms of the Board's consent cease and desist order, US Bancorp must strengthen oversight of firmwide risk-management and compliance programs for preventing violations of anti-money-laundering and U.S. sanctions laws and put in place procedures to ensure it provides adequate and complete responses to examiner inquiries. In a separate action, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the execution of a deferred prosecution agreement with US Bancorp for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act that occurred at its national bank subsidiary. The deferred prosecution agreement provides for a $528 million forfeiture by US Bancorp. In addition, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network announced penalties of $75 million and $185 million respectively against U.S. Bancorp's national bank subsidiary for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act." Unsaid in the Fed's press release: US Bancorp processed transactions for disgraced payday lending mogul Scott Tucker...

February 12, 2018

Something remains wrong with the Federal Reserve's website https://www.federalreserve.gov/apps/h2a/h2a.aspx - when searched by end of comment period, as of February 10 the most recent end is February 6. This hides applications and excludes the public. Inner City Press wrote to the Fed, without response or improvement. We'll have more on this.

February 5, 2018

After US OCC Apologized to Wells Fargo, Fed Imposes Cap on Growth For Abusing Consumers

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, February 2 – More than ten months after Wells Fargo Bank's Community Reinvestment Act rating was dropped two levels to "Needs to Improve," barring it from acquisitions, on February 2 the Federal Reserve said this: "Responding to recent and widespread consumer abuses and other compliance breakdowns by Wells Fargo, the Federal Reserve Board on Friday announced that it would restrict the growth of the firm until it sufficiently improves its governance and controls.. Until the firm makes sufficient improvements, it will be restricted from growing any larger than its total asset size as of the end of 2017." By contrast the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has quietly said, in a footnote to a Bulletin issued on October 12, that "The OCC’s policy is not to lower a bank’s CRA composite or component rating by more than one rating level." See here, footnote 8. So when did this become the OCC's policy, after it dropped Wells by two levels? Call it a stealth sop to Wells Fargo - and seemingly a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. We'll have more on this

January 29. 2018

Fed Asks Schwab About Community Reinvestment Act After Fair Finance Watch Protest

By Matthew R. Lee

WASHINGTON, January 24 – Earlier this month Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch filed with the Federal Reserve for evidentiary hearings on the application by Charles Schwab Corporation to set up Charles Schwab Trust Bank in Henderson, Nevada, noting that Schwab has been sued by its own employees, about 401k plans. See, e.g., Severson v. Charles Schwab Corp. , N.D. Cal., No. 3:17-cv-00285-JCS, complaint filed 1/19/17. It is also noteworthy that, Inner City Press wrote to the Fed, despite the issues there, Schwab reportedly held merger talks with SoFi earlier this year. Now the Federal Reserve has written to Schwab, on January 24, with these three questions: "Provide a summary regarding the current status of litigation in Severson v. Charles Schwab Corp., No. 4:17-cv-00285-CW (N.D. Cal. 2017). 2. Provide the “home state” of CSC as that term is defined in section 10(e)(7)(B)(iv) of
HOLA, 12 U.S.C. § 1467a(e)(7)(B)(iv). 3. Provide an update on Charles Schwab Bank’s and Charles Schwab Signature Bank’s
CRA activities since each institution’s prior Community Reinvestment Act public
evaluation." We'll have more on this. Fair Finance Watch also reviewed, in Nevada, Charles Schwab Bank's lending in the Reno MSA. For home purchase loans, all of the loans were to whites (none to Latinos or African Americans), all to applicants over 120% of MSA median income. The same is true of refinance lending. On the current record, these applications should not be approved." We'll have more on this.

January 22, 2018

  The Federal Reserve Board last week took up the application of Huron Community Bank (“Huron Bank”), the state member bank subsidiary of Huron Community Financial Services, Inc. (“Huron Financial”), both of East Tawas, Michigan, has requested the Board’s approval under section 18(c) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (“Bank Merger Act”)1 to acquire certain assets and assume certain liabilities of a branch of First Federal of Northern Michigan. Don't blame it on CRA...

January 15, 2018

In DC, Fed Ends Enforcement Actions on 10 Including Citi & Chase After Micro-Fine of GS

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, January 12 – After the Federal Reserve let Goldman Sachs set up a bank, without any public comment, during the financial meltdown, today the Fed has announced it has fined Goldman Sachs Bank USA for violating the National Flood Insurance Act. But the fine is for only $90,000. Some wondered about this announcement - and then two minutes later, perhaps explaining, this: "The Federal Reserve Board on Friday announced the termination of enforcement actions related to residential mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing issued in 2011 and 2012 against 10 banking organizations: Ally Financial Inc.; Bank of America Corporation; CIT Group, Inc. (as successor to IMB HoldCo LLC); The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.; HSBC North America Holdings, Inc.; JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Morgan Stanley; The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.; SunTrust Banks, Inc.; and U.S. Bancorp." Wag the dog. In the battle for the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, on January 10 US District Judge Timothy Kelly ruled that  Leandra English lacks a likelihood of success on the merits in removing Mick Mulvaney as acting director. Meanwhile Mulvaney is putting under “strictest review” the CFPB's fund to compensate victims of fraud. And fraud is more and more pervasive. Last week Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch filed with the Federal Reserve for evidentiary hearings on the application by Charles Schwab Corporation to set up Charles Schwab Trust Bank in Henderson, Nevada. It has been reported that this bank would “focus on Schwab’s workplace benefit plan clients, such as employers who offer 401k plans, and the intermediaries who serve them.” But Schwab has been sued by its own employees, about 401k plans. See, e.g., Severson v. Charles Schwab Corp. , N.D. Cal., No. 3:17-cv-00285-JCS, complaint filed 1/19/17 ). Schwab “larded” its own 401(k) plan with expensive and poorly performing investment funds and services that earned fees for the company at the expense of workers’ retirement savings, according to the new lawsuit, filed Jan. 19. The lawsuit also targets the performance of Schwab’s stable value fund and claims that Schwab executives allowed the plan’s trustee to profit from the unallocated plan assets it held. It is also noteworthy that, Inner City Press wrote to the Fed, despite the issues there, Schwab reportedly held merger talks with SoFi earlier this year. Fair Finance Watch has also reviewed, in Nevada, Charles Schwab Bank's lending in the Reno MSA. For home purchase loans, all of the loans were to whites (none to Latinos or African Americans), all to applicants over 120% of MSA median income. The same is true of refinance lending. On the current record, these applications should not be approved." We'll have more on this.

January 8, 2018

Something to watch: "The Federal Reserve Board on Thursday requested comment on proposed guidance that would clarify the Board's supervisory expectations related to risk management for large financial institutions. The guidance is part of a broader initiative to develop a new rating system for large financial institutions that will align with the post-crisis supervisory program. The proposed guidance would apply to large financial institutions, including: domestic bank holding companies and savings and loan holding companies with $50 billion or more in total consolidated assets; foreign banks operating in the United States with $50 billion or more in combined U.S. assets; and nonbank financial companies designated by the Financial Stability Oversight Council for supervision by the Board. Comments on this proposal will be accepted until March 15, 2018." Watch this site.

January 1, 2018

  The Federal Reserve, Inner City Press learned on December 27, held a conference call with the OCC about Sterling's unreliable CRA data. Too much information is being withheld, and Inner City Press is pursuing it. For transparency, in 2018.

December 25, 2017

BrokenViews: Powell has already made moves to relax crisis-era regulations, which will accelerate under his new vice chair, Randal Quarles. The Fed is looking to ease major constraints on banks, including the annual stress tests, the living wills exercise and the Volcker Rule limiting proprietary trading....

December 18, 2017

Well well well: "The Federal Reserve Board on Friday announced that Vice Chairman Randal K. Quarles will recuse himself from participating in matters specific to Wells Fargo & Company. While this action is voluntary and is not legally required, it is being taken to avoid even the potential appearance of a conflict of interest.

Upon his confirmation as a Board Member, Vice Chairman Quarles divested all applicable stock holdings related to Wells Fargo. However, in light of his extended family's prior sale of their interest in a bank to Wells Fargo, he has chosen to recuse himself from matters specifically involving the firm.

As a result, Vice Chairman Quarles will not vote on, or participate by decision or recommendation in, matters specifically involving Wells Fargo. He will continue to oversee the Board's supervision and regulation responsibilities as Vice Chairman for Supervision, including the development of supervisory policies and rules applicable to banking organizations generally."

December 11, 2017

On Basel III: "The federal banking agencies on Thursday announced their support for the conclusion of efforts to reform the international bank capital standards initiated in response to the global financial crisis.

The Governors and Heads of Supervision and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision Thursday announced the finalization of the reforms to the "Basel III" agreement on bank capital standards. With this agreement, the Basel Committee will bring to conclusion the international reforms initiated in response to the global financial crisis.

The Basel III agreement, which was designed for internationally active banks, was introduced in 2010 and was instrumental in establishing revised minimum standards that increased both the quality and quantity of regulatory capital. The reforms finalized today are intended to improve risk sensitivity, reduce regulatory capital variability, and level the playing field among internationally active banks.

The agencies will consider how to appropriately apply these revisions to the Basel III reform package in the United States and any proposed changes based on this agreement will be made through the standard notice-and-comment rulemaking process."

And we'll be there.

December 4, 2017

  So after Inner City Press' letter to the Fed, they "fixed" their online listing of mergers - but did not extend any of the flawed comment periods, nor explain...

November 27, 2017

  Fair Finance Watch (and Inner City Press) has sent this to the Fed: Re: Formal request / complaint concerning FRB's failure to update its public notice of pending applications website, that it be corrected and comment periods extended

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

This is a formal request / complaint concerning FRB's failure to update its public notice of pending applications website, that it be corrected and comment periods extended.
As of today November 24, the Fed's online H2A https://www.federalreserve.gov/apps/h2a/h2a.aspx says that it has not been updated at all since November 17 - a full week ago.
But it's worse - a search of the database today finds no application with a comment period running past November 28, putting the date at which the Fed stopped updating even further back. Please explain, correct, and extend the comment periods.

November 20, 2017

  When the Fed approved South State - Park Sterling it recited that Fair Finance Watch as "A commenter objected to the proposal on the basis of alleged disparities in
South State Bank’s lending to African Americans and Hispanics, as compared to whites, in the Columbia, South Carolina Metropolitan Statistical Area (“Columbia MSA”), the
Charlotte, North Carolina MSA (“Charlotte MSA”), and the Atlanta, Georgia MSA (“Atlanta MSA”), as reflected in data reported under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act
(“HMDA”) for 2015." Here's what FFW provided to the Fed: "  In the Atlanta, Georgia MSA in 2015 for home purchase loans, South State denied the applications of African Americans and Latinos 4.23 times more frequently than the applications of whites. Its lending did not reflect the market or other lenders: 54 home purchase loans to whites, only two to Latinos, and only ONE to an African American applicant. This is disparate. In the Colombia SC MSA in 2015 for home purchase loans, South State denied the applications of African Americans 2.79 times more frequently than the applications of whites, and denied the applications of Latinos' 3.75 times more frequently than whites. Its lending did not reflect the market or other lenders: 179 home purchase loans to whites, only ten to African Americans and only one to a Latino applicant. This is disparate. In the Charlotte NC MSA for home purchase loans in 2015, South State denied the applications of African Americans 2.22 times more frequently than the applications of whites, and denied the applications of Latinos' 6.58 times more frequently than whites. Its lending did not reflect the market or other lenders: 382 home purchase loans to whites, only thirteen to African Americans and only four to Latino applicants. This is disparate, and a pattern militating for evidentiary hearings and the denial of this application." But today's Fed cares less and less about such disparities...

November 13, 2017

 Jay Powell. Capitol Hill. November 28. Be there.

November 6, 2017

  Would Jay Powell stay in charge of (denying) FOIA appeals, as Chairman of the Fed?

BancorpSouth, after settling redlining charges, has escaped Federal Reserve regulation, announcing on Oct 31 it has approvals from the "Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Mississippi Department of Banking and Consumer Finance... to improve efficiency through the elimination of redundant corporate infrastructure and duplicative regulatory oversight."

October 30, 2017

Shameful: Mid America Bank and Trust Company has a Needs to Improve CRA rating but was allowed to pay $5 million and get acquired by Reliable Community Bancshares. Impunity.

October 23, 2017

  On Associated - Bank Mutual, the Fed e-mailed Inner City Press part of the application but not, it seems, the rest of the file including the multiple protests. Maybe we're missing something... Meanwhile, Bank Mutual Corp. reported third quarter net income of $3.8 million, or 8 cents per share, down from $4.5 million, or 10 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2016.

October 16, 2017

Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch filed: "This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the FRB's public comment period on the Applications by Associated Banc-Corp to merge with Bank Mutual Corporation, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and acquire Bank Mutual. The Fed has received many substantive comments on this application and should hold public hearings, including on the prospective impacts of the 36 branches that Associated would close or consolidate. See, http://www.jsonline.com/story/money/2017/09/01/branch-network-pared-36-locations-associated-bank-takes-over-bank-mutual/624805001/

Fair Finance Watch has reviewed applicant Associated's home purchase lending in the just-out 2016 HMDA data in the Milwaukee MSA and finds serious disparities militating for evidentiary hearings and the denial of this application. For conventional home purchase loans, Associated denied the applications of African Americans 4.16 times more frequently than those of whites; it made 807 such loans to whites and only 41 to African Americans. Even cumulating Table 4-1 loans with Table 4-2, Associated's denial rate disparity in 2016 was 3.71; it made 861 loans to whites and only 48 to African Americans. This is outrageous. On the current record, these applications should not be approved."

October 9, 2017

It is an outrage that former Fed governor Duke cashes out to the Wells Fargo board, while Wells is "regulated" by the Fed...

October 2, 2017

  While there are many toxic proposed bank mergers across the USA, the proposed in-market Wisconsin combination of Associated and Bank Mutual which would close branches is our focus this week - more than 300 comments filed, with the Federal Reserve comment period open until October 11 -- fire away!

September 25, 2017

South State Corporation, to the Federal Reserve, is making excuses for its record in the Atlanta MSA, and trying to withhold obviously public information. We'll have more on this.

September 18, 2017

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) Sept. 14 introduced two bills intended to “modernize” antitrust enforcement, including a proposal to require big merging companies to prove their tie-ups won’t harm competition... One of Klobuchar’s proposals would shift the burden of proof for companies involved in “mega-mergers,” a term that the bill doesn’t define. Merging companies would have to prove to regulators that their deal doesn’t harm competition. Currently, it works the opposite way. Regulators are required to prove that a proposed merger is likely to harm competition to stop it.... The measure also would add the term “monopsony” to the Clayton Antitrust Act so that single buyers controlling a market would be illegal. The bill would create an “Office of the Competition Advocate” to help consumers with complaints, encourage antitrust investigations, and analyze and publish reports on merger activity.

September 11, 2017

UNreal that he was portrayed as a strong regulator... "Stanley Fischer submitted his resignation Wednesday as Vice Chairman and as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, effective on or around October 13, 2017. He has been a member of the Board since May 28, 2014."

September 4, 2017

Regulators Said Sterling CRA Data Unreliable, Now Covers It Up To Approve Astoria

By Matthew R. Lee, New Platform

NEW YORK, August 30 – Sterling Bank is known by its regulators to have filed unreliable Community Reinvestment Act data from at least 2014 through 2016, a document obtained by Inner City Press showed - but then the regulators covered it up, to on August 30 approve Sterling's acquisition of Astoria. The story, and outrage, was picked up by the American Banker newspaper here, by Paul Davis and Allison Prang, crediting Inner City Press - and Sterling Bank had no comment. But the Federal Reserve's August 30 approval order states, "A commenter stated that Sterling Bank’s CRA data had been deemed unreliable, in addition to citing HMDA data disparities in Sterling Bank conventional home purchase and home improvement lending to whites compared to African Americans and/or Hispanics.  The OCC conducted reviews of the accuracy of Sterling  Bank’s HMDA and CRA data and assessed fair lending risk at Sterling Bank.  In that regard, the OCC evaluated supervisory information as well as other information provided by Sterling
Bank. Examiners noted in the Sterling Bank  CRA evaluation as of January 18, 2017 (“Sterling Bank Evaluation”), that they found errors in the data related to small business  lending, which subsequently were corrected by Sterling Bank.  Examiners relied on the
corrected data in conducting Sterling Bank’s CRA performance evaluation." BS - it was called unreliable in this proceeding. Inner City Press immediately on May 13 submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Federal Reserve. The Fed repeatedly extended its time to respond then finally on July 7 provided more than 400 pages - almost entirely redacted. All references to the unreliable CRA data (and needs to improve rating) have been redacted. Sample here; the rest on Patreon, here. Inner City Press immediately submitted a FOIA appeal: "Amazingly, despite taking seven weeks to respond to ICP's immediate FOIA request, all information about this consumer compliance / CRA issue has been redacted from the records produced. CRA and CRA data are presumptively of public interest and public impact. The redacted response implies that the public could be entirely excluded from the FRS' review of this important CRA issues. It is unacceptable and inconsistent with the purpose, spirit and letter of FOIA.

August 28, 2017

Watchdogging Fair Lending Evasion, FFW Challenges Redliner BancorpSouth at FDIC

By Matthew Russell Lee

South Bronx, New York, August 26 – The lack of seriousness in US bank regulation, the mechanical repeating of whatever a challanged bank says, is exemplified by the application by BancorpSouth, which Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch challenged on disparities and which settled racial redlining charges, to drop its Federal Reserve charter and evade regulation. Now ICP/FFW has timely protested that application to the FDIC: "Dear Regional Director Elmquist, Ass't Regional Director Finnegan and others at the FDIC: "This is a first timely comment opposing, requesting hearings and an extension of the comment period on BancorpSouth's cynical application to evade regulation after its redlining and settlement. Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch protested the applications of BancorpSouth to merge with Ouachita Bancshares Corporation and thereby indirectly acquire Ouachita Independent Bank, and with Central Community Corporation, and thereby indirectly acquire First State Bank Central Texas, Austin, Texas. - based on racial discrimination in lending... Now BancorpSouth makes this application, and its CEO Dan Rollins states that it wants to “alleviate... regulatory oversight,” and become the “only state-chartered bank not a part of the Federal Reserve system.” We oppose this cynical evasion, particularly by one of the few banks having settled redlining charges. Let's compare: reviewing the 2015 HMDA data released by the FFIEC, ICP examined BancorpSouth's conventional home purchase lending in the Jackson, Mississippi and Baton Rouge, Louisiana and finds them troubling. In 2015 in the Jackson MS MSA for conventional home purchase loans, BancorpSouth made 346 loans to whites, only 53 to African Americans. BancorpSouth's denial rate for whites was 7% while for African Americans it was 19% -- 2.71 times higher. This was troubling. In 2015 in the Baton Rouge LA MSA for conventional home purchase loans, BancorpSouth made 47 such loans to whites and NONE to African Americans, even less than the three it made in 2012. BancorpSouth has grown more disparate. ICP is requesting evidentiary hearings and that this proposed acquisition, on the current record, not be approved. There is no public benefit."

August 21, 2017

Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch has filed this: This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the FRS's public comment period on the Application by South State Corporation to acquire Park Sterling Corporation, and thereby indirectly acquire Park Sterling Bank.

Fair Finance Watch has reviewed applicant South State's home purchase lending in three MSAs in three states - its heardquarters in Colombia SC, the targets Charlotte NC, and Atlanta GA - and finds serious disparities militating for evidentiary hearings and the denial of this application.

And, significantly, the specifics of which branches would be closed have not been publicized.

In the Atlanta, Georgia MSA in 2015 for home purchase loans, South State denied the applications of African Americans and Latinos 4.23 times more frequently than the applications of whites. Its lending did not reflect the market or other lenders: 54 home purchase loans to whites, only two to Latinos, and only ONE to an African American applicant. This is disparate.

In the Colombia SC MSA in 2015 for home purchase loans, South State denied the applications of African Americans 2.79 times more frequently than the applications of whites, and denied the applications of Latinos' 3.75 times more frequently than whites. Its lending did not reflect the market or other lenders: 179 home purchase loans to whites, only ten to African Americans and only one to a Latino applicant. This is disparate.

In the Charlotte NC MSA for home purchase loans in 2015, South State denied the applications of African Americans 2.22 times more frequently than the applications of whites, and denied the applications of Latinos' 6.58 times more frequently than whites. Its lending did not reflect the market or other lenders: 382 home purchase loans to whites, only thirteen to African Americans and only four to Latino applicants. This is disparate, and a pattern militating for evidentiary hearings and the denial of this application.

Meanwhile, see http://www.gastongazette.com/news/20170728/park-sterling-bank-head-says-merger-will-bring-little-fallout-for-gaston-employees: “employees in any branch that closes or is affected might have to relocate to keep their job, to places, for example, such as Charleston, South Carolina... Since last year, Park Sterling had been carrying out a local expansion that involved consolidating back-office operations and bringing jobs from South Carolina to Gastonia. Cherry said their branches on Main Avenue and South New Hope Road have seen the effects of that, and one of the decisions essentially made prior to the announced merger was to close the Main Avenue branch. 'It has limited hours and is really just handling commercial customers,' said Cherry. 'That was likely going to be closed as a result of our moves beforehand.'” South State should be asked for information and criteria about the closings and the comment period must be extended to allow entry of this information into the record and to allow comment thereon.

On the current record, hearings should be held and the application(s) should not be approved. The comment period must be extended.
August 14, 2017

Passing the buck? "A proposed guidance addressing supervisory expectations for boards of directors at banks and holding companies, published by the Federal Reserve Board this week, suggests that expectations for boards and senior management have become increasingly difficult to distinguish"

August 7, 2017

  Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch last week filed this: "This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the FRS's public comment period on the Application by Sandy Springs Sandy Spring Bancorp to acquire WashingtonFirst Bankshares, WashingtonFirst Bank and lst Portfolio, Inc., Fairfax, Virginia.

These transaction raises troubling Community Reinvestment Act issues. Sandy Spring has a disparate lending record, as does WashingtonFirst.

And, significantly, the specifics of which branches would be closed have not been made public, see below. The comment period must be extended.

In the Baltimore MSA in 2015 for home purchase loans, Sandy Spring denied the applications of African Americans TWENTY TWO times more frequently than the applications of whites. For refinance loans in the Washington MSA, Sandy Spring denied the applications of African Americans 8.8 times more frequently than the applications of whites. In the Washington DC MSA in 2015 for home purchase loans, Sandy Spring denied the applications of African Americans 2.8 times more frequently than the applications of whites.

In the Washington DC MSA for home purchase loans in 2015, WashingtonFirst made 13 loans to whites and NONE to African Americans or Latinos (there were similar zeroes for people of people for home improvement loans).

Meanwhile, see http://wtop.com/business-finance/2017/05/sandy-spring-buying-washingtonfirst-becoming-largest-locally-based-community-bank/: “Sandy Spring said there will be branch closings as part of the merger, though it says it is too soon to determine where overlap will require closings.” That is not acceptable: Sandy Springs should be asked for information and criteria about the closings and the comment period must be extended to allow entry of this information into the record and to allow comment thereon."

July 31, 2017

Fed and Synovus Talked "Confidential Supervisory Matter" July 21, on Cabela Application

By Matthew R. Lee, Full Doc on Patreon Here

NEW YORK, July 28 – Two months after Inner City Press reported Capital One failing in its proposal to acquire Cabela's "World's Foremost Bank," a way to try to avoid the regulators and Capital One's Community Reinvestment Act record emerged. The scam involves Synovus buying the bank then passing one the credit card receivables to Capital One, while keeping the deposits, so Capital One wouldn't be reviewed under CRA. The Fair Finance Watch has now opposed this, in a filing to the Federal Reserve, below. And now the Federal Reserve has, with all formality, informed Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press of a July 21 meeting with Synovus, to discuss a "confidential supervisory matter," Fed "memo to file, on Patreon here.

Date: July 27, 2017
To: File
From: Federal Reserve staff
Subject: Telephone Conversation with Clifford S. Stanford, Esq. and Synovus Bank Representatives re: Application by Synovus
Bank to Acquire Substantially All of the Assets and Liabilities of World’s Foremost Bank

On July 21, 2017, staff of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Alison Thro, Jon Stoloff, Andrew Hartlage, Brian Phillips, Betsy HowesBean, and Donald Arrington) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (Jordan Light, Juan Sanchez, Sabrina Francis, Dwight Blackwood, Steve Wise, and
Kathryn Hinton) had a telephone conversation with representatives of Synovus Bank (Kessel Stelling, Kevin Blair, Mary Maurice Young, and
Allan E. Kamensky), Columbus, Georgia, and Clifford S. Stanford and Mark Kanaly, counsel for Synovus Bank, in connection with the application filed by Synovus Bank to acquire substantially all of assets and liabilities of
World’s Foremost Bank, Sidney, Nebraska, pursuant to section 18(c) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act.

Staff discussed a confidential supervisory matter with Mr. Stanford and the Synovus Bank representatives." See here.

July 24, 2017

While Fed & OCC Paper Over Sterling's CRA Scam, Otting & Quarles In Senate July 27

By Matthew R. Lee, New Platform

NEW YORK, July 22 – Amid the scandal of the Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency covering up Sterling Bank's unreliable Community Reinvestment Act data by withholding most of 400 pages released to Inner City Press under the Freedom of Information this month, on July 27 the US Senate will take up the nominations of Joseph Otting, formerly of Bank of America, Union Bank, US Bancorp and OneWest to be Comptroller and of Randal Quarles formerly of the Carlyle Group to head the Fed's Supervision unit. What would it portend for evasions by Sterling and larger banks?  Beyond Otting's gaming of the CAR system, another problem has arisen: Otting misrepresented his resume on education. He listed a degree on his resume from the "School of Credit and Financial Management at Dartmouth College." It's a fraud. "Joseph Otting is not a Dartmouth graduate," Dartmouth spokeswoman Diana Lawrence said. "Dartmouth does not have a school of credit and financial management." In turns out the school is a four-week program spread over two years, which rented space from Dartmouth. It's not only Sterling's CRA data is an unreliable. While at OneWest, as reported by Inner City Press in 2015, Otting was best know for trying to get his own employees, fundees and investors to submit comments to the OCC to support OneWest's purchase by CIT.  Click here. Otting wrote: From: Otting, Joseph M [at] owb.com
Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2015 5:00 PM
Cc: Haas, Alesia Jeanne; Tran, Cindy; Kim, Glenn
Subject: Support For OneWest Bank
 
Dear Friends,
 
We were excited to announce on July 21, 2014, that IMB HoldCo LLC, the parent company of OneWest Bank entered into a merger agreement with CIT Group Inc. As part of the applications for regulatory approval of the transaction, our regulators are interested in the perspectives of the public. We are writing you to seek your support of the Bank and pending merger. This merger, if approved, would create the largest bank headquartered in Southern California with a full suite of banking products and services, which will allow us to better serve our customers. We would retain and grow jobs and are committed to continuing and expanding our efforts to serve the economic and development needs of our community. I would like to ask you to take a moment to click on the link below and submit a letter of support adding any of your own words or thoughts.
 
Please submit your letter by clicking here, or by visiting our website at www.OneWestBank.com/merger-support (if the link isn't clickable or part of the link is cut off, please copy and paste the entire URL into your browser's address bar and press Enter)
 
Thank you for your support.  Best wishes for a successful 2015 and please call on me if I can ever be of assistance.
 
Joseph M. Otting
President and CEO
OneWest Bank N.A.

July 17, 2017

While Federal Reserve Papers Over Sterling's CRA Scam, Quarles Nominated as to Board

By Matthew R. Lee, New Platform

NEW YORK, July 10 – Amid the scandal of the Federal Reserve's covering up Sterling Bank's
unreliable Community Reinvestment Act data by withholding most of 400 pages released to Inner City Press under the Freedom of Information last week, on the evening of July 10 Randal Quarles formerly of the Carlyle Group was nominated to head the Fed's Supervision unit. What would it portend for evasions by Sterling and larger banks? The other shoe still hasn't dropped on / for Marvin Goodfriend... Meanwhile amid the scandal of the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency covering up Sterling's data by quickly issuing a Satisfactory CRA rating, on June 5 a new head of the OCC was nominated: Joseph Otting, previously of OneWest Bank. Now beyond Otting's gaming of the CAR system, another problem has arisen: Otting misrepresented his resume on education. He listed a degree on his resume from the "School of Credit and Financial Management at Dartmouth College." It's a fraud. "Joseph Otting is not a Dartmouth graduate," Dartmouth spokeswoman Diana Lawrence said. "Dartmouth does not have a school of credit and financial management." In turns out the school is a four-week program spread over two years. The White House now syas this characterization of Mr. Otting’s credentials is correct. So who will be Comptroller of the Currency? While at OneWest, as reported by Inner City Press in 2015, Otting was best know for trying to get his own employees, fundees and investors to submit comments to the OCC to support OneWest's purchase by CIT.  Click here.

July 10, 2017

Regulators Said Sterling's CRA Data Unreliable, Under FOIA Fed Blacks-Out Most of 400 Pages

By Matthew R. Lee, New Platform

NEW YORK, July 8 – Sterling Bank, which is applying for approvals to acquire Astoria Bank, is known by its regulators to have filed unreliable Community Reinvestment Act data from at least 2014 through 2016, a document obtained by Inner City Press shows. The story, and outrage, was picked up by the American Banker newspaper here, by Paul Davis and Allison Prang, crediting Inner City Press - and Sterling Bank had no comment. Inner City Press immediately on May 13 submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Federal Reserve. The Fed repeatedly extended its time to respond then finally on July 7 provided more than 400 pages - almost entirely redacted. All references to the unreliable CRA data (and needs to improve rating) have been redacted. Sample here; the rest on Patreon, here. Inner City Press immediately submitted a FOIA appeal: "Amazingly, despite taking seven weeks to respond to ICP's immediate FOIA request, all information about this consumer compliance / CRA issue has been redacted from the records produced. CRA and CRA data are presumptively of public interest and public impact. The redacted response implies that the public could be entirely excluded from the FRS' review of this important CRA issues. It is unacceptable and inconsistent with the purpose, spirit and letter of FOIA. ICP is hereby appealing each and every redaction in the records belated provided to ICP on July 7. This should be ruled on before the comment period closed; the comment period should be extended." Watch this site.

July 3, 2017

Regulators Said Sterling's CRA Data Unreliable, Now Admits Needs to Improve 2017, Denial?

By Matthew R. Lee, New Platform

NEW YORK, July 1 – Sterling Bank, which is applying for approvals to acquire Astoria Bank, is known by its regulators to have filed unreliable Community Reinvestment Act data from at least 2014 through 2016, a documentobtained by Inner City Press shows. The story, and outrage, has been picked up by the American Banker newspaper here, by Paul Davis and Allison Prang, crediting Inner City Press - and Sterling Bank had no comment. Instead, Sterling's outside counsel Wachtel Lipton chose to snail-mail its response to the wrong address, and not e-mail it to Fair Finance Watch. Via here, with envelope re-submitted to Fed and OCC. Now another snail-mailed response from Sterling's Wachtel, which we've put online here on Patreon: "Please see Exhibit 1 and Confidential Exhibit C" -- Inner City Press has now requested it under FOIA, but the agencies have already repeatedly extended their time. This is a scam. But crucially, even Wachtel says "Sterling did receive a Needs to Improve rating for the State of New York in Sterling Bank's most recent CRA Performance Evaluation dated January 18, 2017." We'll have more on this - the application must be denied. The OCC has now put up a roadblock to releasing the records Inner City Press has requested under the Freedom of Information Act, writing: "The purpose of this letter is to seek additional information pertaining to your recent request for information from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Your request dated May 13, 2017 was received in my office on May 15, 2017. You requested any and all records related to Sterling Bank's application(s) to acquire Astoria and Sterling Bank's CRA data. Upon further review, we determined that we need clarification on the date range for search of Sterling Bank’s CRA data. If I have not received this information by COB June 19th I will assume that you no longer seek this information and consider your request closed." Inner City Press has responded: "   In response to Inner City Press' now month-old FOIA request concerning the CRA data the OCC knew and knows to be unreliable, you have asked that by June 19 ICP specify the date range for the request. While not understanding the OCC's delay in requesting this, we hereby timely specify that the date range is from three years ago to the date of your response. Please confirm receipt of this (including explaining your letter since you wrote “we need clarification on the date range for search”) and please provide the records as we intend to comment on them, for obvious reasons. Thank you." Meanwhile, Sterling's lawyers at Wachtell Lipton chose to snail mail their response to Fair Finance Watch, putting it in the mail three days after it was dated (now online via Patreon here.) How did it take the OCC a full MONTH to come up with its request? Why was the response snail mailed? This while the Federal Reserve has granted Inner City Press' request for expedited treatment of its FOIA request for all records, promising the responsive documents by June 1. But then the Fed, in a June 1 letter, unilaterally extended its time to June 22. First Fed letter on Scribd, here.

June 26, 2017

Amazingly, the Federal Reserve has for the second time extended its time to respond - to provide a single document - on Inner City Press' FOIA request about Sterling Bank's unreliable CRA data. We'll have more on this.

June 19, 2017

Regulators Said Sterling's CRA Data Unreliable, ICP on FOIA Games, Sterling Response Here

By Matthew R. Lee, New Platform

NEW YORK, June 17 – Sterling Bank, which is applying for approvals to acquire Astoria Bank, is known by its regulators to have filed unreliable Community Reinvestment Act data from at least 2014 through 2016, a document obtained by Inner City Press shows. The story, and outrage, has been picked up by the American Banker newspaper here, by Paul Davis and Allison Prang, crediting Inner City Press - and Sterling Bank had no comment. Instead, Sterling's outside counsel Wachtel Lipton chose to snail-mail its response to the wrong address, and not e-mail it to Fair Finance Watch. Via here, with envelope re-submitted to Fed and OCC. The OCC has now put up a roadblock to releasing the records Inner City Press has requested under the Freedom of Information Act, writing: "The purpose of this letter is to seek additional information pertaining to your recent request for information from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Your request dated May 13, 2017 was received in my office on May 15, 2017. You requested any and all records related to Sterling Bank's application(s) to acquire Astoria and Sterling Bank's CRA data. Upon further review, we determined that we need clarification on the date range for search of Sterling Bank’s CRA data. If I have not received this information by COB June 19th I will assume that you no longer seek this information and consider your request closed." Inner City Press has responded: "   In response to Inner City Press' now month-old FOIA request concerning the CRA data the OCC knew and knows to be unreliable, you have asked that by June 19 ICP specify the date range for the request. While not understanding the OCC's delay in requesting this, we hereby timely specify that the date range is from three years ago to the date of your response. Please confirm receipt of this (including explaining your letter since you wrote “we need clarification on the date range for search”) and please provide the records as we intend to comment on them, for obvious reasons. Thank you." Meanwhile, Sterling's lawyers at Wachtell Lipton chose to snail mail their response to Fair Finance Watch, putting it in the mail three days after it was dated (now online via Patreon here.)

June 12, 2017 

On Brazil Land Grabs & CRA Flaws, Fed Parrots TIAA, Which Alludes To Confidential Info

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 8 – The lack of seriousness in US bank regulation, the mechanical repeating of whatever a challanged bank says, is exemplified by the Federal Reserve Board's June 7 approval of TIAA's application to acquire Everbank of Florida, which Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch on October 29, 2016 challenged. After Inner City Press' challenge, the Fed asked some questions, and TIAA defended its investments in land grabs in Brazil. On this, the Fed's approval order repeats word for word, apparently without inquiry, the bank's law firm's defense. The bank wrote: "We are grateful for this opportunity to respond to the comment letter filed by Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch on 29 October 2016 regarding the application submitted by TCT Holdings, Inc., Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (“TIAA”)... that TIAA has engaged in improper business practices in Brazil should be considered by the Federal Reserve Board as a factor when considering the managerial resources of the Applicants. The news article cited in the Comment Letter does not provide a complete or accurate portrayal of how TIAA conducts business in Brazil and other markets... TIAA is a signatory to the U.N. Principles for Responsible Investment." The Fed's approval order also cites these UN "principles." On June 1, just before the approval, TIAA's law firm David Polk wrote in: You have asked us to supplement our responses to certain allegations made in protests by Inner City Press/Fair Finance Watch regarding the lending practices of TIAA-CREF Trust Company, FSB (“TIAA FSB”) and EverBank.  As you are aware, we have provided substantial information in response to the allegations. We have received the following information from TIAA FSB: While the allegation of discriminatory lending focuses on the St. Louis MSA by TIAA FSB, we wish to make three important points in response. First, the allegation, using HMDA data for the St. Louis MSA, focuses on a small number of loans made in the MSA.  We do not think the small sample, when analyzed, demonstrates a pattern or practice of discrimination. Second, TIAA, FSB operates no brick and mortar branches in the St. Louis MSA.  Its participation in the MSA primarily results from the use of internet offerings as well as other broader-based channels.  To focus on the results in the St. Louis MSA where there are no physical locations does not fairly reflect the nature of TIAA, FSB’s business strategy or its overall record of non-discriminatory lending. Third, as reflected above, the TIAA FSB mortgage offerings are nationwide in scope using the internet and other broad-based distribution channels.  Focusing on a single market, regardless of its location, does not fairly reflect or represent TIAA FSB’s business strategy or its overall record. On May 25, 2017, TIAA FSB received the results from its Fair Lending Examination by the OCC.  While the results of that examination constitute confidential supervisory information, it would be useful for the Federal Reserve to obtain a copy of the results of the examination.  If you wish, TIAA FSB would be pleased to seek approval to share the results of the examination with you." How cozy. We'll have more on this.

June 5, 2017

Regulators Said Sterling's CRA Data Unreliable, Fed Expedites Now Delays ICPs FOIA, OCC Cover Up

By Matthew R. Lee, New Platform

NEW YORK, June 3 – Sterling Bank, which is applying for approvals to acquire Astoria Bank, is known by its regulators to have filed unreliable Community Reinvestment Act data from at least 2014 through 2016, a documentobtained by Inner City Press shows. The story, and outrage, has been picked up by the American Banker newspaper here, by Paul Davis and Allison Prang, crediting Inner City Press - and Sterling Bank had no comment. Instead, Sterling's outside counsel Wachtel Lipton chose to snail-mail its response to the wrong address, and not e-mail it to Fair Finance Watch. Via here, with envelope re-submitted to Fed and OCC. This while the Federal Reserve has granted Inner City Press' request for expedited treatment of its FOIA request for all records, promising the responsive documents by June 1. But now the Fed, in a June 1 letter, has unilaterally extended its time to June 22: "Dear Mr. Lee, This correspondence is to provide you with an update on the status of your FOIA request. The search for records is being completed and staff is beginning to review the search results for responsiveness and releasability.  We will continue to process your request as quickly as possible.  Accordingly, the Board hopes to be able to respond to your request, or provide a status update, on or before June 22, 2017.  Very truly yours, Jeanne M. McLaughlin Manager, Freedom of Information Office." Why expedite and then extend? Why did the OCC rush a cover-up "Satisfactory" rating? We'll have more on this. First Fed letter on Scribd, here.

May 29, 2017

After Fair Finance Watch Protested Synovus - Cabela, Federal Reserve Asks Synovus 7 Questions

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, May 22 –  The Federal Reserve has asked  Synovus more than a half dozen questions on May 22, on its (straw-man)  application to acquire Cabela's World's Foremost Bank, the questions annexed on May 22 here. Two months after Inner City Press reported  Capital One failing in its  proposal to acquire this   "World's Foremost Bank," a way  to try to avoid the regulators  and Capital One's Community  Reinvestment Act record  emerged. The scam involves Synovus buying the bank then passing one the credit card   receivables to Capital One, while keeping the deposits, so  Capital One wouldn't be  reviewed under CRA. The Fair Finance Watch has now opposed this, in a filing to the Federal Reserve. NCRC has commented as well. We'll have more on this.

May 22, 2017

Regulators Said Sterling's CRA Data Unreliable, Sterling Mis-Sends Response, Fed Expedites ICPs FOIA

By Matthew R. Lee, New Platform

NEW YORK, May 20 – Sterling Bank, which is applying for approvals to acquire Astoria Bank, is known by its regulators to have filed unreliable Community Reinvestment Act data from at least 2014 through 2016, a document obtained by Inner City Press shows. The story, and outrage, has been picked up by the American Banker newspaper here, by Paul Davis and Allison Prang, crediting Inner City Press - and Sterling Bank had no comment. Instead, Sterling's outside counsel Wachtel Lipton chose to snail-mail its response to the wrong address, and not e-mail it to Fair Finance Watch. Via here, with envelope re-submitted to Fed and OCC. This while the Federal Reserve has granted Inner City Press' request for expedited treatment of its FOIA request for all records, promising the responsive documents by June 1. Fed letter on Scribd, here.

Regulators Said Sterling's CRA Data Unreliable, Sterling Mis-Sends Response, Fed Expedites ICPs FOIA, Here by Matthew Russell Lee on Scribd

Fair Finance Watch has asked both the Fed and OCC to extend their comment periods