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As Bronx Amalgamated Closing Has Negative Impact Inner City Press Hits BNB Dime Merger

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - CJR - PFT

South Bronx, Oct 14 –  This is a tale of two closing of bank branches, in The Bronx and in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

  In the South Bronx closing, by Amalgamated Bank, the FDIC did not hold a public meeting.

  But as to Kenosha, the Federal Reserve has said: "This is in reference to the notice provided to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (“Reserve Bank”) by Johnson Bank, Racine, Wisconsin to close its branch located at 2729 18th Street, Kenosha, Wisconsin.   This Reserve Bank received correspondence regarding the branch closure which discusses its adverse effects on available banking services in the area; this Reserve Bank considers the comment not frivolous. Therefore, under Federal statute 12 USC § 1831r-1, this Reserve Bank shall convene a meeting of interested parties to explore the feasibility of obtaining adequate alternative facilities and services for the affected area following the branch closure.... Respectfully,   Jeremiah Boyle Assistant Vice President Community and Economic Development Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago."

  This is the same Federal Reserve which rubber stamped Banco Bradesco, and even serviced Varo at the Reserve Bank level. But the FDIC held no meeting, even virtual, on this (acknowledged as negatively impactful by the New York State Department of Financial Services, which has yet to meaningful act of the negative impacts of Dime being taken over by BNB, below) --

"October 7, 2020 (TR-CRB) AMALGAMATED BANK 275 Seventh Avenue (Fourteenth Floor, New York, NY 10001  In accordance with Section 28-c of the Banking Law, the Superintendent of Financial Services has found that the closing of branch office at 94 East Burnside Avenue, Borough of Bronx, City of New York 10453, will result in a significant reduction of financial services in the community affected." And? We'll have more on this - and on Dime / BNB.

Brooklyn based Dime Community Bank, it is proposed, would be taken over by Long Island-based Bridge Bancorp, making few to no loans to people of color. Fair Finance Watch has filed a timely protest:

"September 28, 2020 New York State Department of Financial Services Attn: Linda A. Lacewell, Acting Superintendent of Financial Services A   Re: Timely First Comment on Applications by Bridge Bancorp, Inc. to acquire control of Dime Community Bank and all related applications

Dear Acting Superintendent Lacewell:  This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the NYSDFS' public comment period on the Applications by Bridge Bancorp, Inc. to acquire control of Dime Community Bank and all related applications  The applicant's BNB Bank in New York State in 2019 made 108 HMDA-reported loans to whites -- and NONE to African Americans, and only two to Latinos. 

  This is unacceptable and Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press hereby timely request public evidentiary hearings and that Bridge Bancorp's and BNB Bank's applications be denied on Community Reinvestment Act and fair lending grounds.  

  Dime Community Bank, whose record Inner City Press has previously critiqued with some impact, in 2019 in NYS made 16 HMDA reported loans to whites, five to African Americans and NONE to Latinos. This is too is unacceptable, particularly in combination. This proposed merger should be denied.   

 See also, Shelter Island Reporter of July 6, 2020: "Certain retail locations on the East End w[ould] operate under the BNB Bank name for at least one year, according to a press release. It did not specify which locations.... what started as a trickle of bank branch closings and mergers has turned into a river. Capital One was among a handful of major banks that bucked the trend as late as 2014, actually adding more branches. But three years ago it joined the brick-and-mortar vanishing act, as reflected by branch closings on the East End, including Shelter Island. According to The Economist, since the financial crisis of 2008, banks have closed more than 10,000 branches."

All impacts of this proposed merger should be disclosed - this a timely request to be emailed a copy of the application(s), which should have been placed on the Department's website for public review as many Federal agencies do.  The comment period should be extended; evidentiary hearings should be held; and on the current record, the application should not be approved." We'll have more on this.

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