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CRA Protest to RBC - City National, FFW on Lending Disparities

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, April 18 -- The largest bank merger recently proposed, that of Royal Bank of Canada and affluent-focused City National Bank, is the subject of a Community Reinvestment Act challenge by Fair Finance Watch.

  This comes after the M&T - Hudson City merger stalled after similar filings by FFW. On Royal Bank of Canada / City National, the April 23 filing with the Federal Reserve says

City National Bank is known as a bank directed at the (most) affluent. RBC is that as well:

In the New York City MSA in 2013, for conventional home purchase loans, RBC made no loans to African Americans or Latinos. It made one loan to a white applicant (for $1.8 million) and six to “race not available” applicants, for a total of over $36 million.

RBC Bank (Georgia), in the Atlanta MSA in 2013 for conventional home purchase loans made one such loan to an African American, six to whites, and none to Hispanics. In the Raleigh NC MSA in 2013, RBC Bank (Georgia) made two loans to whites, none to African Americans or Latinos.

City National Bank, in the NYC MSA in 2013 for home purchase loans, made no loans to African American or Latino borrowers. It made 10 loans to whites - none denied -- and 35 to “race not available.” By income, there were 36 loans to upper income borrowers, and only one to the other income tranches.

City National Bank, in the Los Angeles MSA in 2013 for home purchase loans, made two loans each to African Americans and Latinos. It made fully 45 loans to whites.

City National Bank, in the Nashville MSA in 2013 for home purchase loans, made no loans to African American or Latino borrowers. It made one loan to a white borrower - none denied -- and six to “race not available.” FFW contests City National Bank's compliance with HMDA.

How is this consistent with the CRA? For the record, RBC previously bumbled in the USA with Centura and Alabama BanCorporation. Now it returns, only for the affluent. Hearings are necessary.

 Under the Freedom of Information Act, Inner City Press / FFW has submitted a

"a formal request under FOIA for the exhibits that Royal Bank of Canada has claimed are confidential and that the Federal Reserve has withheld from Inner City Press on its April 8 response to Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch's April 4 request, including but not limited to the 'RBC Bank (Georgia), N.A. CRA Plan,' the list of subsidiaries, information pertaining to the U.S. structure of Royal Bank."

The withholding of this CRA plan - hearkening to the Federal Reserve rejected CIT's request to withhold such a plan, and extension of the comment period and holding of public hearing(s) - is outrageous; it must be released sufficiently before any closing of the comment period such that ICP can comment on it. We are therefore requesting all of the withheld exhibits (listed below)

AND all Federal Reserve communication with or about Royal Bank of Canada or City National since July 1, 2014.

Beyond the request for communications, including emails and text messages, these exhibits:

City National Corporation Subsidiaries; Information Pertaining to the U.S. Structure of Royal Bank; Integration Framework; Due Diligence Summary; Royal Bank of Canada Organizational Chart; RBC USA Holdco Corporation Organizational Charts; City National Corporation Organizational Chart; Pro Forma Financial and Related Information; Asset Quality Information; Risk Management Information; Royal Bank of Canada BSA/AML Compliance Program; Information pertaining to BSA/AML Integration; Interconnectedness Analysis; RBC Bank (Georgia), N.A. CRA Plan; Source of Funds; City National Corporation Dividend Information; Principal Information Information Pertaining to Item 3(2) and Item 12 of Form FR Y-3F

None of this information has been provided, even the CRA plan. The comment period must be extended and on the current record, the application must be denied.
  Inner City Press previously reported that filing by FFW with the Federal Reserve against M&T's application, that Hudson City in the New York City Metropolitan Statistical Area in 2011 made only five home purchase loans to African Americans, compared to hundreds to whites while denying the applications of African Americans 3.21 times more frequently than whites.

  That 2011 data was quoted by Bloomberg News earlier this month reporting that now the Department of Justice and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are investigating Hudson City, putting the M&T deal, also challenged by NCRC and others, in doubt. Click here for that, here for the NJ Bergen Record, also citing Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch.

 But there's more, and its worse. FFW has just filed this comparison to 2013 with the Federal Reserve:

"Hudson City's record was even worse in 2013 than in the 2011 data cited above. In the NYC MSA for conventional home purchase loans, while Hudson City made (only) five such loans to African Americans in 2011, this fell to only FOUR such loans to African Americans in 2013, compared in 2013 to 427 such loans to whites: a more than one hundred to one ratio, totally out of step with the demographics and other lenders' records.

"For refinance loans in the NYC MSA, while Hudson City in 2011 made 8 such loans to African Americans in 2011, this fell to only SEVEN such loans to African Americans in 2013, compared in 2013 to 801 such loans to whites: again a more than one hundred to one ratio, totally out of step with the demographics and other lenders' records.

"This is presumptive discrimination and the reported DOJ and CFPB investigations are entirely appropriate and should be deferred to by the FRB. What does this say, as well, about M&T's due diligence and managerial resources?"

  Why has the Federal Reserve not dismissed M&T's application?

  The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, part of the US Treasury, is scarcely better, releasing to Inner City Press on March 9 a redacted copy of Sterling's CRA presentation, here.

 Now on April 17 the Federal Reserve has asked Sterling questions about inconsistencies in its previous responses, and about Green Campus Partners. We'll have more on this.

  See here on the CIT Group and another belated Freedom of Information Act response to Inner City Press from the Federal Reserve on February 20. Uploaded exclusively here, embedded below.

   Back on August 26, 2014, Inner City Press submitted a FOIA request to the Federal Reserve Board for CIT's application to acquire OneWest and for the Federal Reserve's communications with or about the companies since January 1, 2014.

  After Inner City Press and Fair Finance Watch repeatedly complained about the withholding even of CIT's Community Reinvestment Act plan, and after the Fed and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency had agreed to ICP's and others' request for a public hearing, now scheduled for February 26, only on February 20 -- seven months after the request -- did the Fed provide the responsive documents, over one thousands pages.

  Many of the released pages are redacted in full, others have redacts to for example sentences referring to documents about CIT's [REDACTED]. Inner City Press has submitted a Freedom of Information Act appeal and request that the comment period be extended.

  But even as released, and exclusively uploaded today here, the document show the degree of insider treatment CIT, its CEO John Thain and its lawyers including Rodgin Cohen of Sullivan & Cromwell are given by the Federal Reserve.

   While the proposed merger was only announced to the public on July 22, 2014, it appears in Federal Reserve correspondence as far back at April 24, 2014.

  On that day, Michael Lipman of the Federal Reserve Board's Banking Supervision and Regulation (BS&R) department wrote to three others that “Based on details from the most recent CIT April BOD meeting, there is a likelihood CIT may approach FRB in the near term to discuss an acquisition of OneWest NA (Private, ~$23B in assets ). Couple points [REDACTION]. I will keep you updated as discussions develop. [REDACTION].” Page 1 of ICP upload; appealed.

   Then in June, Rodgin Cohen of Sullivan & Cromwell and CIT's John Thain arranged to meet with the Federal Reserve, to some it appears to receive a form of pre-approval of the proposal.

   On June 24 senior Fed staff were asked to hold time to meet with Rodgin Cohen. On June 25, Lipman wrote again:

“CIT is meeting with FRBNY (John Ricketti and others) next Monday at 11am to discuss a potentially large acquisition. CIT has yet to send a discussion deck but will have more details later this week (OneWest continues to be the assumed target: $22B out of CA). John Thain’s secretary has bee guided to me to help set up a meeting in DC and I am expecting to hear from her by Friday. That said, it is also possible that they may reach out to one of you; CPC Cheatham is under the impression they have a different contact in DC as well (he is not sure who).” Page 6 of ICP upload.

  Later that day it was said that “the meeting with be in Scott's office so space will be limited.” Scott is Scott Alvarez, the Fed's longtime general counsel.

  On June 30, the Fed's Richard Naylor wrote to Lipman, “ I wouldn’t worry about any briefing material for Scott. Most likely Rodgin will do all the talking...”

   Scott Alvarez's self-described Gate-keeper told Lipman who would come: “The Chairman and CEO of CIT and 6 other guests; 3 from One West; 1 from Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and 2 from Sullivan and Cromwell. Total of 13 outsiders.” Page 163 of ICP upload.

    These “outsiders” sound like insiders.

Exclusive: CIT's Thain Met Fed Staff 3 Weeks Before OneWest Merger, FOIA Response Shows, Loan Loss Redactio... by Matthew Russell Lee

  The next day the attendees were described:

Readout of Meeting on Proposed Merger between CIT and OneWest Tue 7/1/2014 12p-1p, B-4001

Outside Attenders: ~13

Executives from CIT (~7-8) included CEO John Thain, formerly CEO of Merrill Lynch

Executives from OneWest (~3) included CEO

Lawyers (~2-3) included Rodgin Cohen (Sullivan Cromwell) and a Wachtell Lipton lawyer

Board Attenders: ~10-12

  So the “outsiders” from Wall Street had more attendees that the Fed, even insider the Fed.

    The Fed's Alison Thro put it in context: “Rodgin is coming in to preview the proposed acquisition because it will be the first transaction to create a more than $50 billion institution since Dodd-Frank was enacted.”

  Also on June 30, the Fed's Elizabeth Kiser wrote to Fed economist Jacob Gramlich, “I dug a bit and found some materials on CIT’s [REDACTED].” There follow more than 100 pages of redacted material. Page 25 to 149 of ICP upload; appealed.

   By July 9, still before any public announcement by CIT, the project had been code-named Carbon / Oxygen and the Fed was reviewing (and now apparently redacting) the OneWest / Indymac / FDIC Loan Loss Agreements. These will be discussed at the February 26 public hearing, and beyond.

  Once they applied for approval and groups like Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch, NCRC, CRC and others submitted comments in opposition, the Fed was required to follow its rules against ex parte communications.

  But the extensive communications that took place before then were withheld for seven months, and some are still being withheld.  Today, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch exclusively uploads these documents, in preparation for the public hearing, and beyond. Watch this site.


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