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In Citigroup's Subprime Circus CFO Wrist Slapped, Regulator Hired as Treasury De-Fanged, Data Disparate

By Matthew R. Lee

SOUTH BRONX, August 4 -- Predatory lending by the country's largest banks, allowed by complicit or even conflicted regulators, is supposedly a thing of the past. At Citigroup, for example, former chief financial officer Gary Crittenden is paying a $100,000 fine to the Security & Exchange Commission.

  Despite the relatively small size of the fine, compared with Mr. Crittenden's Citigroup compensation, we are told that this is the new era of accountability on Wall Street.

   And so Citigroup brags to Inner City Press and others that it has hired a new director of fair lending, Irene Fang, noting that she previously worked as a fair lending examiner of large banks for the Treasury Department's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency -- the regulator of Citibank.

   Some thought that there were anti revolving door provisions in place, in the Dodd Frank financial reform legislation or otherwise. But Citigroup brags about hiring a regulator with whom they must have negotiated with while Ms. Fang was supposed to be examining Citi for fair lending.

  Can you say, conflict of interest?

  Simultaneously, Citi CEO Vikram Pandit named Zion Shohet to "manage" the Dodd - Frank bill for Citi. They seem to be managing it through the revolving door. One wonders what Treasury Secretary Geithner thinks or will do about this.

Citi's Pandit & Treasury's Geithner, New York, predatory lending revolving door not shown

   South Bronx based Fair Finance Watch has requested and reviewed Citigroup's 2009 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data, which notes which mortgages are over the “rate spread” of five percentage points over Treasury securities for first lien, three percent over for subordinate liens.

These data show that Citigroup in 2009 confined African Americans to higher-cost loans above this rate spread 2.25 times more frequently than whites,and confined Latinos to higher-cost loans above the rate spread 1.72 times more frequently than whites. What did the OCC do about this, before Ms. Fang jumped over for a job at Citigroup?

Tomorrow August 5 the Federal Reserve will be holding a hearing in San Francisco about HMDA. One of the Fed-invited panelists is from the Bank of Hawaii, run by former FDIC chief Donna Tanoue.

  Fair Finance Watch requested the 2009 HMDA data from Bank of Hawaii and rather than providing it electronically, on disk so it could be analyzed, Bank of Hawaii provided it on paper, printed out, unanalyzable. The Fed has allowed this practice, and now invites such a bank to testify about HMDA.

Is it safe, then? No.

* * *

As Obama's Bank Fees Under-Target Citigroup and AIG, Geithner Questioned

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, January 14 -- The night before President Barack Obama was scheduled to unveil a scheme of fees on the three or four dozen largest financial firms, the Administration held a then embargoed conference call with the press.

  Several questions centered around why the auto manufacturers which took TARP funds would not also be fined. Others wondered, if the fee regime yielded more than what the government and taxpayers lost through TARP before it expired in ten years, would the money still be collected and how would it be used?

  The Administration representative, who the press was told could only be called a "senior administration official," replied that once the basis of calculating the fee had been decided on, car companies didn't fit it.

  Before all questions were answered, the Administration signed off, noting that Obama would be making his announcement at 11:20 the next day. Among the questions not taken or answered was this, from Inner City Press: why assess all of the financial firms under the program at the same rate, fifteen basis points?

  Citigroup, for example, received much more TARP and other payouts than other covered banks. And as South Bronx based Fair Finance Watch and others showed at the time, the government tried to help Citigroup scoop up Wachovia, until another less subpsized offer won the day. Why benefit Citigroup again by treating it like other, less subprime heavy banks? The same holds for AIG.

Geither and AIG, Citigroup not shown

  The "senior Administration official" went out of his way to portray the program as a matter of principle for not only Obama but also "his" Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner.

  To some, the timing is meant to blunt renewed bipartisan criticism of Geithner, this time only only for not paying his taxes to the IRS -- which would be collecting the fees from the financial firms -- but for having told AIG not to disclose the preferential basis of the bailouts it was receiving, while he was at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

  But it was hard to note that his seeming favorite, AIG, and the bank most benefited by his Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Citigroup, are benefited by the structure of this proposed Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee program.

  In fact, some say it has an aspect of a Tim Geithner bail out.

  And that's... a question that should be asked, and answered. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

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

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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