Inner City Press

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYTAzerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

Share |   

Follow on TWITTER

More: InnerCityPro

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

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

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

ICP Timely Requests Reconsideration of Federal Reserve Loosening Merger Reviews Without Comment

By Matthew R. Lee

MAIN STREET, March 27 – The US Federal Reserve Board, which bears more than a little responsibility for the global financial crash from 2008 due to inattention to predatory lending including on mergers, has now further reduced its scrutiny of bank mergers, with little notice to date. Now Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press has timely challenged the Federal Reserve's stealth reduction of scrutiny, in a timely request for reconsideration filed with the Federal Reserve on the evening of March 27, below. FFW and others including NCRC protested, and Inner City Press has Freedom of Information Act requests pending regarding, the application by People's United to acquire Suffolk County National Bank.

FFW showed that  in the the New York City MSA, "People's United made 82 home purchase loans to whites and NONE to African Americans or Latinos. This is redlining; this proposed acquisition could not legitimately be approved and People's United should be referred for prosecution for redlining by the Department of Justice and CFPB."

When the Fed ruled on People's application, it added this: "In 2012, in its order approving Capital One Financial Corporation’s acquisition of certain U.S. operations of ING, the Board stated that a proposal that involves an acquisition of less than $2 billion in assets, that results in a firm with less than $25 billion in total assets, or that represents a corporate reorganization may be presumed not to raise material financial stability concerns absent evidence that the transaction would result in a significant increase in interconnectedness, complexity, cross-border activities, or other risk factors.  Since establishing this presumption, the Board’s experience has shown that proposals involving an acquisition of less than $10 billion in assets, or that result in a firm with less than $100 billion in total assets, are generally not likely to create institutions that pose systemic risks. Transactions below either of these asset thresholds have typically not involved, or resulted in, firms with activities, structures, and operations that are complex or opaque. Such transactions have also not materially increased the interconnectedness or complexity of the financial system. Accordingly, the Board now presumes that a proposal does not raise material financial stability concerns if the assets involved fall below either of the aforementioned size thresholds, absent evidence that the transaction would result in a significant increase in interconnectedness, complexity, cross-border activities, or other risk factors." Why wasn't this subject, at least, to notice and comment rulemaking? Why now? FFW and ICP have filed a "timely request for reconsideration, on behalf of timely commenters Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press (ICP) of the Approval and Stealthy Announced Change in Financial Stability Review Presumptions in the Board's March 16 Approval of Application by People's  United Financial to acquire 100 percent of the voting shares of, and thereby merge with, Suffolk Bancorp, and thereby indirectly acquire voting shares of The Suffolk County National Bank, both in Riverhead, New York. While there are many portions of the approval order crying for reconsidering, to be clear ICP will herein have the following focus, on the Federal Reserve Board's misuse of this proceeding and approval order to purport to change its review of future applications, on the financial stability and inevitably related factors. What is the basis of the Federal Reserve determining that post-crisis scrutiny should be reduced? The above quoted portion of the order must be reconsidered, stripped out, and made subject to public comment. On fair lending issues, the Order does not appropriately address or take into account that in 2015 in the New York City MSA, People's United made 110 home purchase loans to whites and only ONE to an African American and only four to Latinos.
Again, this is systematic redlining; this proposed acquisition could not legitimately be approved and People's United should be referred for prosecution for redlining by the Department of Justice and CFPB. ICP said that a hearing was needed, and now after the Fed's insertion of a policy change into the Order, reiterates that." We'll have more on this.

  At what point does bank executives' spin to investors and the media become more than misleading? Take Community Bank System (NYSE: CBU), which has now received on March 13 consumer lending questions on top of the nine earlier questions from the Federal Reserve on its proposal to acquire Merchants, after its CEO derided issues Fair Finance Watch raised about the proposal.

 On March 13, the Fed asked CBU: "In connection with the application by Community Bank System, Inc. (“Community”), DeWitt, parent company of Community Bank, National Association (“Community Bank”), Canton, both of New York, to merge with Merchants Bancshares (“Merchants”), and thereby acquire Merchants Bank, both of South Burlington, Vermont, pursuant to section 3(a)(5) of the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, 12 U.S.C. § 1842(a)(5), Federal Reserve staff requests the following additional information:
1.       Provide an update on Community Bank’s Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”) activities and efforts since its July 27, 2016 CRA Performance Evaluation.  In your response, address the activities in the bank’s assessment areas under each of the lending, investment, and service tests.
2.       Regarding consumer lending products:

a.       reconcile page iv of the Bank Merger Act (“BMA”) application, which states that Merchants Bank currently offers consumer loans, with page xiv of the BMA application, which states that Merchants Bank does not currently offer consumer lending products and services; and

b.      explain how the consumer lending products and services offered by Community Bank, including overdraft lines of credits, are enhanced compared to Merchants Bank’s offerings."

  On its last proposal, CBSI bad-mouthed a Community Reinvestment Act protest even as it had to delay its Oneida deal. First, CBSI's "Hal Wentworth said that Inner City Press is not a local group and pointed out that letter was the only one filed on the Oneida deal. 'This activist does not do business with either Oneida or Community Bank, but nonetheless made vague allegations regarding Community,' Wentworth said. 'These allegations were entirely without merit and will be fully addressed by Community Bank and Oneida Savings in the application process.'" Then the deal was significantly delayed, with CBSI pushing the date back.

  More spin:  CFO Scott Kingsley told the media that FFW's protest "is not the sole reason. We have other things that have to sequentially happen to get to the technological conversion in July. When we did not have a definitive answer from the Fed or other parties last week, that put the technological conversion at risk, so we opted not to go ahead.”

  This time, it went to the CEO Mark Tryniski, who in January 2017 told stock analysts that "despite the baseless protest filed with the Fed Reserve by a serial activist, we expect to close in the second" question. We'll see. Among the nine questions: "Community Bank states that, to the extent it does not intend to continue to offer certain loan products and services offered by Merchants Bank post-merger, it does not believe that not offering such products and services would have a significant impact on the target bank's communities. As an example, Community Bank cites the fact that Merchants Bank would no longer accept applications for FHA/VA loans (on behalf of a mortgage company), but that Community Bank would offer loan products and programs which are not currently offered by Merchants Bank that Community Bank believes are comparable and 'equally valuable' to its communities, such as FNMA's Home Ready Program, Community Bank's Affordable Housing Program, and the USDA loan program. Compare the features of FHA and VA loans for which applications are presently taken by Merchants Bank with the features of the products and programs that Community Bank asserts are comparable, including any features of FHA and VA loans that are not covered by Community Bank's offerings."  Watch this site.

   With Capital One failing in its proposal to acquire the "World's Foremost Bank," another bank merger challenged by Fair Finance Watch failed. In December it was Astoria's proposed take over by NY Community Bancorp, here.

   In January, disparate lender Investor Bancorp, on which Fair Finance Watch previously got a condition imposed saw its proposal with Bank of Princeton fall apart.

  And now it's Capital One - Cabela, on which Inner City Press commented: "In the New York City MSA in 2015, the most recent year for which HMDA data is available, for conventional home purchase loans Capital One denied the applications of whites 23% of the time, while denying African Africans fully 45% of the time, and Latinos even more, 46% of the time. This is unacceptable.

  Meanwhile, Capital One is “closing branches in Laurel, Gaithersburg, Frederick and Merrifield.”

   Capital One came back with snark, as has Simmons National -- but then announced including to NCRC that  it will withdrawn its application. Onward.


Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

 Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

 Copyright 2006-2015 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] for