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On Community Reinvestment Act Northfield Bank Challenged To OCC of Otting

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

SOUTH BRONX, March 7 –   The current US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting cashed out of his position with OneWest Bank in California by overseeing fake comments in favor its acquisition by the CIT Group.

   Then, emboldened, he devoted the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to weakening or destroying the Community Reinvestment Act which provides for the public process that he subverted with fake comments.

   Inner City Press, which along with CRC opposed the merger and then pursued a Freedom of Information Act request for all documents about Otting's fraud, soon found its and Fair Finance Watch's comments to the OCC being rejected, or ignored, or returned. 

  Now on March 6 Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press filed timely comments with Otting's OCC on the application by Northfield Bank to buy Victory State Bank: "Re: Timely Initial Comment Opposing Application of Northfield Bank to acquire Victory State Bank     Dear Deputy Comptroller Kiefer, Ms. Cummings and others in the OCC:      This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the OCC's public comment period on the Application by Northfield Bank to acquire Victory State Bank.       This comment is timely.  While Comptroller Otting has said he never saw discrimination (except being told by family members about it), consider for the record on this application that even as reflected by the too-limited 2018 HMDA data available on the CFPB's website, in New York State in 2018 made 91 loans to whites - and only TWO to African Americans, out of proportion to the demographics of its service area and of other lenders' activities in it.       While making only TWO loans to African Americans in NYC in 2018, Northfield Bank denied seven applications from Africans, much more disparate that its ratio for whites: 91 loans made, 97 denial: more than three times more disparate to African Americans.       This application should be denied. And for the record, the CFPB's elimination of the HMDA informaiton that has been available on the FFIEC's and even its own website for 2017 data is part of the destruction of CRA and HMDA of which the OCC is a part.        On consumer (non) protection, consider for the record these:

 "This has got to be the WORST bank I've ever been in. I accompanied a friend to this Northfield branch because they had to take care of a problem. They had been trying to speak to the manager about it, but he was never in. My friend spoke to someone who said she was the assistant manager and she was VERY rude,condescending, and a know it all.  I've been a businessman for 30 years and have never come across a person this rude to a customer before. If she worked for me, she would have been fired. Another lady in the back was talking to a customer at the window very loudly and I was almost embarrassed for them. Totally unprofessional employees! I had been thinking of opening an account there, but after seeing how my friend was treated, no way! There are too many better banks in the area. No wonder it was empty! Why do they hire people who give such poor customer service??I hope their other branches aren't like this.  It's a disgrace, and I plan to tell all my friends and colleagues to stay away from this bank.  I hope my friend goes up the chain with their complaint.     This review is for the 1123 Kings Highway branch which is not even listed on Yelp. They are a terrible bank! They are unprofessional liars. I would never trust them with my money.

      Also for the record, any and all possible branch closing or consolidations which result from this proposal must be disclosed, during the comment period. Public hearings should be held.            In this context, the comment period should be extended so that public evidentiary hearings can be held, and the application should be denied."

  While Inner City Press' FOIA requests get fee waivers from the Federal Reserve and a range of agencies in the US and beyond, Otting's OCC suddenly started denying them, hindering access to the merger applications on which CRA is enforced.   

Otting is trying to push through this CRA-killing proposal on a short comment period, cognizant of the other CRA, the Congressioal Review Act. Now it's been extended a single both. It is not enough - Otting must recuse.  But it is obvious that even banks want more time.

On January 26, in advance of Otting's belated January 29 House of Representatives appearance, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch submitted a formal comment, here.


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