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Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


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Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

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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... In other news, the bank with the worst record in the United States for gouging consumers with overdraft fees, Ameris, has applied to the Federal Reserve and FDIC 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. Inner City Press has requested records under the Freedom of Information Act. The Fed acknowledged the filing on January 30 and sent it to Ameris' lawyer Jody L. Spencer at Rogers & Hardin, LLP. On February 6, the FDIC ruled that it is a formal protest, letter here on Patreon. And still no response at all from Ameris, which says it wants to the deal(s) done fast...  From Fair Finance Watch's (and Inner City Press') filing with the Fed: "This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the FRB's public comment period on the Application by Ameris Bancorp to merge with Atlantic Coast Financial Corporation, and thereby directly acquire shares of Atlantic Coast Bank in Jacksonville, Florida. Fair Finance Watch has reviewed Ameris' lending in 2016, the most recent year for which Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data is available, in both the Atlanta and the Jacksonville Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and finds both to be disparate. In the Atlanta MSA in 2016 for refinance loans, Ameris denied the applications of African Americans 3.75 times more frequently than those of whites. Ameris made 152 such loans to whites, only 16 to African Americans and only eight to Latinos. In the Atlanta MSA in 2016 for home purchase loans, Ameris denied the applications of African Americans 2.11 times more frequently than those of whites. Ameris made 582 such loans to whites, only 206 to African Americans and only 48to Latinos. In the Jacksonville MSA in 2016 for home purchase loans, Ameris denied the applications of African Americans 2.69 times more frequently than those of whites. Ameris made 203 such loans to whites and only SEVEN to African Americans. In the Jacksonville MSA in 2016 for home improvements loans, Ameris made five such loans to whites and none to African Americans or Latinos. In the Jacksonville MSA in 2016 for refinance loans, Ameris denied the applications of African Americans 2.2 times more frequently than those of whites. Ameris made 100 such loans to whites and only FOUR to African Americans. This is disparate. Fair Finance Watch also reviewed Ameris' home purchase lending in the Tallahassee MSA in 2016: Ameris denied the applications of African Americans 3.78 times more frequently than those of whites. Ameris made 147 such loans to whites and only FIVE to African Americans. Ameris is systemically disparate. Also for the record, and to be addressed at the requested evidentiary hearings: “Georgia bank socking customers with overdraft fees,” Atlanta Journal Constitution, January 3, 2017: “Ameris Bank collected the most overdraft/insufficient fund fees per account of any U.S. bank, says the analysis, which is based on federal government data from the first three quarters of 2016. Ameris collected an average of about $176 per account.. The No. 2 bank on the list of the top 10 collected an average of about $131 per account. The national average was $17.76.”  This is predatory. Ameris gobbled up Jacksonville Bank and now seeks Atlantic Coast. Would branched be consolidated or closed? This must be addressed, including at the requested evidentiary hearings. We note that Ameris is already trying to look beyond this challenged proposal, to try to acquire Hamilton State Bancshares, Inc. and Hamilton State Bank. We also hereby oppose that; the two proposal should be consolidated and hearings held on both. On the current record, Ameris' application should be denied."

To head the UN-affiliated International Organization for Migration (IOM), the US on February 2 nominated Ken Isaacs of the group Samaritan's Purse, active in Sudan and elsewhere. Inner City Press at the UN has been pursuing the story it first exposed of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres having recently met Sudan's Omar al Bashir, indicted for genocide in Darfur by the International Criminal Court, without even notifying the ICC in advance, as required. So after the US nomination, Inner City Press visited Isaac's Twitter account, to see if he'd opined on Guterres' unprecedented move. Isaacs' Twitter account, @KenIsaacs1, was accessible to the public; he had re-tweeted about the Nunes memo. But by February 3, the account was protected, not accessible. Photo here. Perhaps it's a function of the upcoming election among IOM member states, the scrutiny of involved officials - like Guterres himself. But what *does* Isaacs think of Guterres meeting with Bashir, indicted for war crimes in Sudan, without even telling the ICC in advance, and not disclosing it until Inner City Press asked at the UN noon briefing on January 29? Question here. Watch this site. Today's UN of Antonio Guterres, who just met with ICC indictee Omar al Bashir, and his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed who has refused Press questions on her rosewood signatures and now the refoulement of 47 people to Cameroon from "her" Nigeria, has become a place of corruption and censorship. On January 30 as Inner City Press sought to complete its reporting for the day on Guterres' Bashir meeting and Mohammed's Cameroon no-answer, it had a problem. It was invited to the month's UN Security Council president's end of presidency reception, 6:30 to 8:30 - but with its accreditation reduced by censorship, it could not get back into the UN after 7 pm, to the already delayed UN video. It ran to at least enter the reception - but the elevator led to a jammed packed third floor, diplomats lined up to shake the outgoing UNSC president's hand. Inner City Press turn to turn tail back to the UN, passing on its way favored, pro-UN correspondents under no such restriction. Periscope here. Inner City Press has written about this to the head of the UN Department of Public Information Alison Smale, in Sepember 2017 - no answer but a new threat - and this month, when Smale's DPI it handing out full access passes to no-show state media. No answer at all: pure censorship, for corruption. Smale's DPI diverted funds allocated for Kiswahili, her staff say, now saying they are targeted for retaliation. This is today's UN. Amid UN bribery scandals, failures in countries from Cameroon to Yemen and declining transparency, today's UN does not even pretend to have content neutral rules about which media get full access and which are confined to minders or escorts to cover the General Assembly.

Inner City Press, which while it pursue the story of Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng's bribery of President of the General Assembly John Ashe was evicted by the UN Department of Public Information from its office, is STILL confined to minders as it pursues the new UN bribery scandal, of Patrick Ho and Cheikh Gadio allegedly bribing President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa, and Chad's Idriss Deby, for CEFC China Energy.

Last week Inner City Press asked UN DPI where it is on the list to be restored to (its) office, and regain full office - and was told it is not even on the list, there is no public list, the UN can exclude, permanently, whomever it wants. This is censorship, and has been accepted and even encouraged by what has become the UN Censorship Alliance, which accepted funds from Ng Lap Seng's South South News and had Inner City Press ejected from the UN Press Briefing Room as it inquired into the story.

When this UNCA held its annual meeting on January 29, it could barely reach quorom (Periscope here); it covered over the glass doors of the clubhouse the UN gives it with a sign board.

Disgruntled members forwarded the "agenda" -- "1) Introduction of the new 2018 UNCA Executive Committee. 2) Presentation of UNCA sub-committees and their upcoming agendas. 3) Presentation of 2017 UNCA & UNCA Awards financials. 4) UNCA 70th anniversary. 5) Other matters." We'll have more on this.


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