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Sept 24, 2013

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Amid PPP Abuse Lenders Like Berkshire Bank Refuse As Inner City Press Requests Basic Data

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

SDNY COURT / SOUTH BRONX, May 24 –     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 / Community on the Move has begun contacting both banks and non-banks for their Paycheck Protection Program data. Without yet getting into the result, note that ostensibly progressive or "exciting" Berkshire Bank has for now responded to Inner City Press' questions by stating that: "Good morning Matthew,     Our CRA Officer will be reaching out to you to assist. Terry." Then, after no answer, and Inner City Press re-iterated its questions, this:  "They are working on getting the answers to all of your questions. You should hear from them soon. Terry."

  But they were not getting answers to any of Inner City Press' questions. Next, this came: "Hi Matthew,     Thank you for reaching out to Berkshire Bank in regards to receiving information about our CRA Public File and our PPP loans. We are currently unable to answer the questions you sent over because we do not have that data available for release at this time...  Aaliyah Outlaw  (She, Her, Hers) Corporate Communications Coordinator." UNacceptable.

  We'll have more on this.

While U.S. Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting is pushing forward with his proposal to weaken the CRA, his new chief national bank examiner Blake Paulson said bank examinations have gone 95% off-site.

  The Federal Reserve says it is suspending "non-critical" examinations, even at the largest institutions.

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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