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As OCC Attacks Community Reinvestment A Protest Filed to Steuban Trust Bid By Community Bank NA

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
The Source - The Root - etc

Bronx / SDNY, Jan 11 –  With US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting on December 12 formally moving along with the FDIC to undermine the  Community Reinvestment Act, now with comment period to March 9, on January 11 Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch filed a CRA protest with the OCC to Community Bank NA's application to acquire Steuben Trust Company:

"Dear Deputy Comptroller Kiefer, Ms. Cummings and others in the OCC, including Barry Weides (and Otting) --      This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the OCC's public comment period on the Application by Community Bank NA to acquire Steuben Trust Company.       This comment is timely. Community Bank N.A. is getting worse and worse. Even as reflected by the too-limited 2018 HMDA data available on the CFPB's website, in New York State in 2018 Community Bank NA made 3636 loans to whites - and only FIFTEEN to African Americans, out of proportion to the demographics of its service area and of other lenders' activities in it.       

Significantly, while Community Bank NA in NYS in 2020 originated six loans to whites for each of its denials to whites, for African Americans it made only 1.66 loans to every denial. See attached, for hte records. CBNA is 3.6 times more disparate to African Americans than whites, denying then 3.6 times more frequently than whites, worse than its peers       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.      

Also for the record, CBNA is bragging about closing branches, to investment analysts:     "During Community Bank's earnings conference call, CEO Mark Tryniski provided some commentary on the pending deal:  [W]e're thrilled to be partnering with Steuben Trust Corporation, a $570 million asset bank in Western New York. This is a high-value, lower-risk transaction of a solid performing in-market institution. We have considerable close proximity branch overlap and so also have consolidation opportunities."      

Each branch closing plan must be disclosed before the comment period closes, and 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." Watch this site.

  In other fair lending bank violation news, now Wells Fargo has settled discrimination charges by the Philadelphia government. The case is City of Philadelphia v. Wells Fargo & Co. et al., 17-cv-02203, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia said Monday it has reached a deal with Wells Fargo Bank to settle the city's charges of discriminating against minorities in its home loans in exchange for $10 million toward city programs to promote homeownership and cleaning up vacant lots.  Philadelphia filed suit in 2017, detailing that from 2004 to 2014, Wells Fargo targeted minority homeowners in the city with high-risk, high-interest mortgages even when their credit qualified them for better offers, which allegedly led to higher rates of foreclosures on those loans: predatory lending. $500,000 will go to the Philadelphia Horticultural Society's "LandCare" program, which clears and cleans vacant lots, then sets up basic plantings that can be mowed and maintained by local landscape contractors or neighbors.

  As if a parallel universe on December 12 in a badly-webcast FDIC meeting Director Jelena McWilliams said that where she was born there is a phrase about if you can't go to the Hill, the Hill comes to you - the reference was to Rep. Maxine Waters - the FDIC sold its credibility to Otting. And why then are the regulators like the FDIC, now with the connivance now only of the OCC but also CFPB, making it harder for the public to enforce CRA?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Kathy Kraninger issued 2018 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data - with an interface without any racial or ethnic information unlike 2017 and every previous year, undermining the entire purpose of the HMDA law. See this page and this December 16 filing with FDIC, cc-ed to the CFPB:

December 16, 2019  Via e-mail

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Attn: John Vogel, Regional Director and Doreen R. Eberley, Jim Watkins, Robert P. Cordeiro, Scott D. Strockoz 350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1200 New York, NY 10118-0110  

Re: Timely First Comment on Applications by Flushing Bank to Acquire Empire National Bank 

Dear Regional Director Vogel and others at the FDIC:  

This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the FDIC's public comment period on the Applications by Flushing Bank to Acquire Empire National Bank.   

Flushing Bank in 2018, for race specified loans, made six times more loans to whites than to African Americans, entirely out of keeping with the demographics of its market.   

Compare the demographics of its lending to the geography: 68 loans to Queens, 35 in Manhattan, 27 in The Bronx, 35 in Manhattan, five on Staten Island and 24 in Westchester County.    

Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch would like to and has a right to submit more detailed HMDA data. But for the record, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for 2018 data has unilaterally removed the ability of the public to view HMDA data by race on its website, which the FFIEC / Federal Reserve allowed in previous years and the CFBP did even in 2017.

Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch contends that the CFPB's move is both anti-public and illegal.    

For further context, last week the FDIC opted in a party line vote to go with the OCC of ex-banker Otting which is trying to further weaken the CRA, and has already in rogue-like fashion barred the public from comment on charter conversion and even merger applications like that involving Chinatown FSB earlier this year.   

In this context, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch is demanding an extension of this comment period by the FDIC, its intervention with the CFPB to restore access on the website itself to 2018 HMDA data, a reversal of the FDIC's anti-CRA moves, and on the current record the denial by the FDIC of these application(s).  Thank you for your prompt attention, 
Matthew R. Lee
Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch

cc's incl Brenda.Muniz [at]

  Watch this site.


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