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Bank of America Settles EDNY Fair Lending Charges As Inner City Press Requests PPP Data

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

FEDERAL COURT, July 23 – Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, fair lending and the Community Reinvestment Act are taking a back seat, or worse. Some banks to which CRA applies are excluding smaller businesses and those in communities of color. And some banks bragging about the PPP loans won't provide any information - we are Pressing.

   Inner City Press has been contacting both banks and non-banks for their Paycheck Protection Program data. Without yet getting into the results, note that the highest overdraft fee bank in America, Ameris Bank has for now responded to Inner City Press' questions by stating that: "Information about our Paycheck Protection Program participation can be found in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Sincerely,  William D. McKendry EVP and Chief Risk Officer Ameris Bank. " UNacceptable.

  We'll have more on this. For today, July 23, from the EDNY we have this to report: "Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Eric S. Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, filed a civil complaint and proposed settlement agreement with Bank of America, N.A. (“Bank”) today to resolve claims that the Bank engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination on the basis of disability, in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The Settlement Agreement is subject to being so ordered by the assigned district judge. According to the civil complaint, the United States alleged that, between January 2010 and 2016, the Bank maintained a policy of denying mortgage loans and, between January 2010 and 2017, home equity loans, to adults with disabilities who were under legal guardianships or conservatorships. “This settlement ensures that Bank of America will no longer discriminate against people with disabilities when issuing mortgage and home equity loans, and compensates the victims for their losses,” stated Acting United States Attorney DuCharme. “Our Office is committed to standing up for the rights of individuals with disabilities and taking action when necessary to vindicate those rights.” “No one in this free country should be denied access to the American dream merely because of a disability. The unalienable right to pursue happiness extends to all people, including those with disabilities, and purchasing a home is one way many people exercise this right,” said Assistant Attorney General Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “The Fair Housing Act prohibits banks from denying mortgage loans and other housing-related credit to people because of their disabilities, and this Department will hold accountable those lenders who engage in such illegal conduct. Today’s settlement provides compensation to victims of unlawful discrimination and requires Bank of America to apply non-discriminatory policies in deciding which applicants will receive loans.”

Meanwhile the Fed is pushing forward to approve bank merger applications, like Banco Bradesco - BAC which Fair Finance Watch has been opposing, as it has commented to the OCC against the acquisition of State Farm's health savings account business by Webster Bank, based in part of Webster's problematic Paycheck Protection Program performance.

   Fintechs and other non-bank financial firms are now at the PPP trough and are getting sued. For example, there is the lawsuit filed as a class action against Fountainhead Commercial Capital LLC on May 6, noting the finance firm advertised that it would process loan requests on a first-come, first-served basis and then stealthly shuffled its line of PPP applicants so that it would lock down the largest lending fees first.

     Meanwhile Paulson of the OCC, which wants to admit fintechs into banking without regulation, says no one is in PPP for the money. This while in response to Inner City Press' FOIA request for Otting's schedule the OCC redacted the names of banks that he met without, and obscured others. (A FOIA appeal has been filed.)

   Amid all this, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press / Community on the Move are launching a new project. Watch this site.


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