At CFPB Kraninger Sworn In Without Press But Texas Bankers Present Now Electronic Media Out in 5 Minutes

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At CFPB Kraninger Sworn In Without Press But Texas Bankers Present Now Electronic Media Out in 5 Minutes

By Matthew R. Lee, IMF Coverage

NEW YORK CITY / DC, December 11 – With the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau having sworn in Kathy Kraninger without any press present - but with the Texas Bankers Association in the house - on December 11 Kraninger will hold a strangely controlling media availability. Only the first five minutes will be on camera; after that all "electronic media" will be kicked out. This is 2018, and this is the agency ostensibly set up to protect the public. Here is CFPB's notice: "Kathy Kraninger, the new director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, will hold a media availability for credentialed press only at the Bureau’s headquarters at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11.

Who: Kathleen Kraninger, Director, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

Where: Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, 1700 G St. NW, Washington, D.C., B-Level conference room area.

When: Dec. 11, 2:30 p.m.

Photo Ops: Up to five minute photo/video opportunity at beginning of the availability.

Reporters: Pen and pad Q&A with accredited media only. Members of the press attending must have a White House or congressional media credential. Electronic media will only be permitted during the first five minutes of the news availability." This is not an auspicious beginning. Back on 7 September 2018 a new, smaller and less consumer representative
Consumer Advisory Board was announced. Now on September 10 this, from members of the former CAB that was disbanded by Mulvaney in June: "We are disappointed that the current administration of the CFPB chose to only appoint nine members to this new CAB. While each of the individual members is qualified in her or his own right, the fact that there are so few of them means that Acting Director Mulvaney’s CAB lacks sufficient diversity and depth of perspective. There are only 2 consumer advocates, whereas there were at least 8 advocates on the former 25 member CAB. Ironically, there are no large financial institutions, major credit card providers, or debt collectors on this new CAB. While these sectors probably have other opportunities for access with the CFPB, one of the most valuable aspects of the recently disbanded CAB was that it provided a forum for fruitful and productive conversations among a variety of stakeholders in consumer finance, which often generated valuable insights for the Bureau and the CAB members. This will be missing from the new CAB. The lack of a multitude of perspectives is ironic given that a stated reason for disbanding the former CAB was to increase the diversity of viewpoints on the Board.
“We are also disappointed that Acting Director Mulvaney and his appointees have chosen to limit the service of these CAB members to one year instead of three years as with previous CAB members. Because the CAB meets only a few times a year, it takes one year for members to become familiar with the CFPB and other CAB members, and to get up to speed. New members will be just getting started when their terms end. One year does not permit members to provide the type of rich feedback and perspective that traditionally has been the role of the CAB.
As consumer advocates and academics with decades of experience among us, we are committed to continue working to ensure that consumer protection and fair market practices are given due priority. We must ensure that the most financially vulnerable Americans are protected from the worst abuses of predatory consumer practices.
Ann Baddour, former chair of the disbanded CAB and director of the Fair Financial Services Project of Texas Appleseed stated that “We hope the new panel builds on the work of the previous boards, and ensures that the CFPB stays on track in meeting its consumer protection mission. We are happy to be a resource to them in their important work.”

Meanwhile state Attorneys General from New York and 13 other states have delivered a letter of opposition, on September 5. NY AG Barbara Underwood said, "the Equal Credit Opportunity Act was enacted because of our country’s sordid history of credit discrimination — and it’s unbelievable that the CFPB is considering refusing to use it to protect consumers." The letter  signed by the attorneys general of North Carolina, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and the District of Columbia stated that they "will not hesitate to uphold the law if CFPB acts in a manner contrary to law with respect to interpreting ECOA." We'll have more on that - and this: the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting on August 28 began a process to weaken and take the community out of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Now in September he has given conditional approval to a fintech bank, Varo Bank of Varo Money, which will include only Salt Lake City, Utah in its CRA assessment area. The CEO is Colin Walsh, previously of scandal plagued Wells Fargo. But will the FDIC, which has not for now joined Otting's crusade, hand out deposit insurance? On August 29 when the OCC purported to solicit public comments for the CRA evaluation of banks in the fourth quarter of 2018 and even first quarter of 2019, the OCC's notice did not even mention or link to Otting's proposal to change the CRA. Here is what the OCC e-mailed out on August 29. So the community is not informed - but the industry is. Even open sources are full of banks and their lobbying groups celebrating and preparing to support Otting's proposal(s). From Louisiana, there is this: "GAME FACE ConsumerBankers GC Steve Zeisel is ready for today’s Membership Call regarding the @USOCC ANPR on #cra. #intense. #focus." On the other hands, there's this, on and of which we'll have more. The protagonist, akin to Scott Pruitt until recently at the US Environmental Protection Agency, is Joe Otting. While Reuters blandly noted that he is "a former banker," the bank he headed, OneWest, was accused of predatory lending and when its acquisition by the CIT Group was challenged by Fair Finance Watch, CRC and others Otting arranged for seemingly counterfeit or compelled comments supporting the merger. In this light, Question 11 of his "Advanced Notice of Proposal Rulemaking" or ANPR is noteworthy: "11. How can community involvement be included in an evaluation process that uses a
metric-based framework?" How, indeed. Here's what Otting wrote as a banker, already long public, in support of his merger:

"From: Otting, Joseph M [at]
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 (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.
888 East Walnut Street
Pasadena, CA 91101"

   There has been fight-back, under the TreasureCRA campaign. Watch this site - including on actual enforcement of CRA.  Bank of America has been sued for failure to maintain properties it forecloses on in communities of color. Nationwide, the lawsuit contends, 45 percent of the Bank of America properties in communities of color had 10 or more maintenance or marketing deficiencies, while only 11 percent of the Bank of America properties in predominantly white neighborhoods had 10 or more maintenance or marketing deficiencies. 64 percent of the Bank of America properties in communities of color had trash or debris visible on the property, while only 31 percent of the Bank of America properties in predominantly white neighborhoods had trash visible on the property. 37 percent of the Bank of America properties in communities of color had unsecured or broken doors, while only 16 percent of the Bank of America properties in predominantly white neighborhoods had unsecured or broken doors. 49.6 percent of the Bank of America properties in communities of color had damaged, boarded, or unsecured windows, while only 23.5 percent of the Bank of America properties in white neighborhoods had damaged, boarded or unsecured windows.

  In Milwaukee, for example, recently profiled in the book "Evicted," the lawsuit cites 134 Bank of America REO properties. Of these 134 REO properties, 74 were located in African American neighborhoods, 21 were located in predominantly Latino neighborhoods, eight were located in predominantly nonwhite
neighborhoods, and 31 were located in predominantly white neighborhoods. 83.9% of the REO properties in predominantly white neighborhoods had fewer than five maintenance or marketing deficiencies, while only 21.4% of REO properties in neighborhoods of color had fewer than 5 maintenance or marketing deficiencies. 78.6% of REO properties in neighborhoods of color had 5 or more marketing or maintenance deficiencies, while only 16.1% of the REO properties in white neighborhoods had 5 or more marketing or maintenance deficiencies. 8.7% of REO properties in neighborhoods of color had 10 or more marketing or maintenance deficiencies, while none of the REO properties in white neighborhoods had 10 or more marketing or maintenance deficiencies. Some including the Fair Finance Watch notice similar disparities in Milwaukee when it comes to the placement of the Bublr bike share program. Maybe Bank of America will want to put its name on the disparate network, as Citibank has in New York with disparately placed CitiBike.

  At the UN on June 4, when Citigroup managing director Michael Eckhart appeared, it was to talk about renewable energy with the UN Environment Program. Inner City Press asked Eckhart about Citigroup's role in the Dakota Access Pipeline.

He paused and admitted it was a lender, than said that the outcry against the pipeline, on indigenous human rights and other issues, was entirely unexpected. He said they had not protested early enough. Video here. But what about free prior informed CONSENT? Is silence consent? Or, as is too often the case, is the UN a place of hypocrisy?

As Inner City Press has shown, UNEP paid money to Volvo Ocean Races, and appears to have engaged in pay-for-prize with MoBikes. Inner City Press also asked about the UN bribery scandal in which China Energy Fund Committee - oil money - bribed UN President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa, but CEFC remains in special consultative status with UN ECOSOC. Video here. We'll have more on this - and on Citigroup. Watch this site.


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