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Amid OCC Contempt For Protest to Steuben Trust Bid By Community Bank NA 3 Branches 39 Workers

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

Bronx / DC, March 10 –  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 April 8, hearings have been by held  the House Financial Services Committee. And see our comment here.

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. It was filed electronically, but there was no response at all from the OCC until a snail-mailed January 27 letter stating "The OCC has decided not to extend the comment period and will not hold a public hearing/meeting."

  Now, without any inquiry or disclosure by Otting's OCC, both branch closings and job cuts are being openly bragged about by these two banks: "Community Bank System plans to close three Steuben Trust branches as the two banks merge, but Steuben Trust's Clarence branch will not be among those affected.  Steuben Trust branches in Alfred, Bolivar and Geneseo are set to close and be combined with nearby Community Bank locations.  The deal still needs the approval of regulators." If you can call Otting a regulator. And what does "nearby" mean? Otting doesn't care. Nor about this: "As Community Bank takes over Steuben Trust Co. and eliminates duplication in some areas, it expects to lay off 39 Steuben Trust Co. workers. Community, based in Dewitt, Onondaga County, plans to close three Steuben branches in communities where both banks had been represented. They are in Alfred and Bolivar, both in Allegany County; and in ... "

Here's from the underlying comment: "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.


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