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As Banks Turn Small Businesses Away From PPP Otting Ghoulishly Closes Comment Period

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon  Periscope
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BRONX / SDNY, April 10 -- With the Community Reinvestment Act under attack by US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press on April 8 submitted a sixth comment, demanding that he not close the comment period while even amid Coronavirus large national banks turn away underserved business from the Paycheck Protection Program. Otting makes things worse.

 Groups have asked that in light of Coronavirus / COVID-19 the comment period on the assault on CRA be extended for months. See also here. Though it shouldn't have been necessary, Fair Finance Watch commented again on March 20, noting postponements by SEC and others.

  With Otting even still resisting postponing his dream of weakening the CRA, his OCC has joined not only his sometime partner in crime the FDIC but also the Fed providing a TWO YEAR extension for big banks, while still threatening to push through his attack on CRA, ghoulishly using Coronavirus, see below.

  Otting's outrageous statement on April 9, that should get him fired and be his legacy: "'It is our intention to craft a final rule that will encourage banks to lend and invest more in the communities they serve, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods,” Otting said. “We will work toward issuing a final rule during the first half of this year. Further delay would only prevent these valuable resources from reaching those who need them most in this time of national emergency.' An FDIC spokesman - could it be Mr. Barr? -- declined Thursday to comment on Otting’s statement but stressed the agency is now just focused on reviewing the proposal feedback."

 From Fair Finance Watch April 8 comment: "even now at the absurdly (even ghoulishly) enforced deadline, no response so far from the OCC. In fact, this was the canned quote from Comptroller Otting: 'Slowing the rulemaking would only delay relief and support that communities across the country need. Modernization would bring valuable additional resources to communities across America that are currently underserved by the current regime. Further delay will prevent these additional resources from reaching those who need them most in this time of national emergency.'

  So Otting is trying to use this deadly virus to deregulate the national banking system. This is a historic low for US financial regulators. The comment period must be extended or re-opened, and Otting must be recused from any decision making on this. In fact, we contend, he should resign. Large national banks are excluding underserved businesses from PPP loans, and all Otting can think of is further deregulating them. The FDIC is complicit."

   On April 2, an even more telling move involving the OCC (and the FDIC, Fed and others) - to refuse to extend a comment period, in this case ending April 1, but to say that for those commenting on the Volcker Rule, comments will be considered for at least a month after the "expiration" of the comment period.

  If the OCC and Otting think it would be sufficient or acceptable to wait until April 9 then say Otting will consider (read, shred) comments until May 9, it is not. The communities that need CRA are even more impacted by Coronavirus, in terms of commenting. And the ghoulishness of Otting's assault on CRA, when these communities are struggling more than ever, is clear. Otting has already pushed it to the limit. Postpone or resign. "Five federal financial regulatory agencies on Thursday announced that they will consider comments submitted before May 1, 2020, on their proposal to modify the Volcker rule’s general prohibition on banking entities investing in or sponsoring hedge funds or private equity funds—known as “covered funds.”  The agencies will continue to consider comments to provide interested persons more time to analyze the issues and prepare their comments in light of potential disruptions resulting from the coronavirus. The proposal asked for comments to be submitted by April 1, 2020.  The agencies will continue to work together on policy issues as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds.  Media Contacts: Federal Reserve Board Eric Kollig202-452-2955... OCC Bryan Hubbard202-649-6870."

  Fair Finance Watch has written in, receipt confirmed, on March 30:

 Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Chief Counsel's Office, Attention: Comment Processing,  400 7th Street SW, Suite 3E-218, Washington, DC 20219

Re: Docket ID OCC-2018-0008 - 5th opposition to OCC/FDIC plan to weaken CRA - formal demand that comment period be extended in light of Coronavirus COVID-19 & OCC inaction, two year postponement for big banks, threats to communities

To whom it may concern at the OCC and FDIC:    On behalf of Fair Finance Watch, and Inner City Press, and in my personal capacity, this is a fifth timely comment opposing the proposal by Comptroller Joseph Otting and the FDIC to weaken the CRA.   On March 11, amid the then-worsening Coronavirus COVID-19 crisis, we wrote to formally demand an extension of this comment period.

On March 18, we wrote to point out that the SEC extended comment periods, and that even filing taxes was extended to July 15.    Still, no response so far from the OCC. This is both telling and troubling.   

So now, on March 30, this: Otting's OCC was among the Federal regulators which announced on Friday, March 27 that "big banks can wait longer before phasing in the regulatory capital effects of a new loan loss accounting standard and can choose to switch over early to an updated methodology for calculating certain capital requirements, moves intended to buoy bank lending during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued an emergency rule stating that banks required to adopt the current expected credit losses, or CECL, accounting standard in 2020 may delay its estimated impact on their regulatory capital for two years." 

  So - extensions for big banks, but still none for impacted communities and consumers. Even if the OCC as it must acts today to indefinitely postpone Otting's crusade to kill the CRA, this delay has been indicative of Otting's inordinate focus on destroying the CRA in retaliation for his exposure for fake comments as he sold his OneWest to CIT Group.    Again, a pending CRA merger challenge submitted electronically by FFW to Northfield Bank - Victory State Bank choosing to respond, cursorily, by snail mail. Something is dreadfully wrong at the OCC. This comment period on weakening the CRA must be indefinitely extended.   The above is added to what we can only interpret as the OCC's furthering weakening of CRA by no documents response to our FOIA request about this CRA proposal and the Comptroller's schedule, and the OCC's failure to inquire into even branch closings int he CBNA - Steuban Trust proposal we comments on. This is not the time to be slipping through an undermining of CRA."

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