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ICP Protests BNC - High Point, 2015 Lending Fell 80% from 2014

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, October 4 -- The lack of seriousness in US bank regulation grows from the relatively smaller to the largest banks like Goldman Sachs - down to Bank of North Carolina (BNC), whose proposed acquisition of High Point Bank Corporation Inner City Press has challenged and the Federal Reserve has asked questions on, and BancorpSouth, which Inner City Press protested for discrimination in 2014, and has now been charged by the Department of Justice and CFPB.

On the evening of August 24, the Federal Reserve asked BNC questions about Inner City Press' protest, including:

"The public comment submitted on the proposed merger includes assertions that Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data from several metropolitan areas indicate that both BNC Bank and High Point Bank had unfavorable levels of mortgage lending to African American and Hispanic individuals as compared to white individuals."

Now while BNC brags it will close its deal by the end of October, Inner City Press has just submitted a second comment with the just released 2015 HMDA data. BNC's conventional home purchase lending to African Americans in the Charleston MSA has falling by over 80% from 2014 to 2015. Inner City Press has today submitted to the Federal Reserve:

"this, with Compliance Plan withheld, is the record of the proposal acquirer: in the Charleston MSA in 2014 for conventional home purchase loans, BNC made 173 such loans to whites and only SIX to African Americans, and none to Latinos. For refinance loans, it made 68 loans to whites and only ONE to an African American, while denying the applications of African Americans 3.94 times more frequently than those of whites.

  In 2015, things got substantially worse. For conventional home purchase loans in the Charleston MSA in 2015, while BNC made 45 such loans to whites, it made only ONE to an African American (down from six in 2014).  This application should be denied. We ask for more time to comment on this 2015 data.

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

 The Winston-Salem Journal reported: "regulatory approval was delayed in part by two New York advocate groups challenging BNC's lending practices involving minority and underserved applicants in its markets. Inner City Press and affiliate Fair Finance Watch filed a protest with the Federal Reserve under the federal Community Reinvestment Act. It is a normal practice of those groups to challenge minority-lending practices when a significant bank purchase is announced. Fed officials asked for additional information Dec. 2. BNC responded and asked that its minority-lending data remain confidential. Rick Callicutt, the bank's chief executive and president, said in April that because BNC has surpassed $5 billion in total assets, it faces "a higher level of expectation to market more heavily to the underserved in its markets. All our Community Reinvestment Act exams have been good."

  Really? BNC's conventional home purchase lending to African Americans in the Charleston MSA has falling by over 80% from 2014 to 2015.


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