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As Fed Again Postpones Capital One - ING, Revolving Door Spun

By Matthew R. Lee

SOUTH BRONX, February 13 -- Why did the Federal Reserve again postpone deciding on Capital One - ING on Monday, after first postponing its meeting on February 8?

On the night of February 7, the Fed issued a document dump of some 1040 pages responding to a Freedom of Information Act request Inner City Press filed in October.

Among the 1040 pages provided (more than 200 have been withheld in full, from ICP and other commenters, NCRC and others), some show an irregular process tainted by ex parte communications and a disturbingly pervasive resolving door. Some examples, from a single one of the files dumped on ICP on February 7, and which ICP commented on to the Fed in the run-up to its February 13 meeting:

Former Federal Reserve legal staffer Andy Navarrete, now Senior Vice President of Capital One, improperly reached out to Scott Alvarez on August 25, 2011;

On November 7, 2011, Patricia A. Robinson at Capital One's law firm – presumably the same Pat Robinson who was in the Federal Reserve Board’s Legal Division working on applications -- wrote to Michael Sexton and Stanlyn Clark at the Federal Reserve:

"It was great talking to you last week, Mike. Stanlyn, I am sorry that I missed you but hope to catch up very soon (now that my one-year 'cooling off' period has expired).

As ICP commented, it is troubling that Capital One could hire and use an attorney who personally knows and worked with all of the Fed attorneys reviewing the application. This led to a November 21, 2011, call about, among other things, the HSBC credit card portfolio, with 3 OCC officials on the call -- tainting that process as well. On November 18, 2011, Ms. Robinson was at the OCC, 8:45 to 10:45 AM. There was another call on December 9, 2011.

The Fed is increasingly abusing and evading FOIA and this must be not only reversed, but explained and accountability imposed in response to this appeal.

This information must be reviewed, and released and comment allowed thereon, by ICP, NCRC and others, before the Fed considers approving the Capital One - ING proposals.

For the reasons of record, and as argued by NCRC, the Federal Reserve should re-open the comment period to fully consider Capital One's related proposal to buy the ex-Household predatory lending platform from HSBC, and the related stealth ING proposals.

Of the February 8 postponement, Capital One's spokeswoman said “The board has informed us that the planned meeting for this afternoon has been rescheduled for Monday, February 13th. We understand that the delay is due to a scheduling conflict, and we look forward to their decision early next week."

But there was a problem with this spin, that scheduling made it impossible. At 3:05 pm on Wednesday, Inner City Press got a voice mail from the Federal Reserve's Legal Division, Michael Waldron, about an application that ICP Fair Finance Watch had commented on some time ago: Hawa - Korea Exchange Bank. The Board had just approved the application, Waldron said (without also stating any right to request reconsideration.)

In that Order Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch is, yes, "the commenter."

So if the Fed could approve applications on Wednesday afternoon but chose not to do so for Capital One. And the Fed again declined to approve on Februar 13. Why?

One can hope that the outrageous "document dump" of hundreds of pages on the eve of the Fed's scheduled February 8 meeting, which Inner City Press immediately raised to the highest levels of the Fed, combined with calls Wednesday and letters Monday from NCRC members to open the meeting, caught the Fed's attention. Watch this site.

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