Inner City Press

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYTAzerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

Share |   

Follow on TWITTER

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube

More: InnerCityPro
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

Park National Bank Settled Redlining Case with DOJ As Federal Reserve Rubber Stamps Mergers

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Maxwell book

SOUTH BRONX, March 1 – Park National Bank discriminates, the Department of Justice has belatedly concluded, and fined the bank $9 million. Too little, too late.

  The Federal Reserve and other regulators have rubber stamped mergers by this bank, and others like it.

In 2015, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch told the Federal Reserve and other regulators about the problems at City National Bank. And the Fed(s) did nothing.  Here's from that time:

Royal Bank of Canada and affluent-focused Los Angeles-based City National Bank, has since April been the subject of a Community Reinvestment Act challenge by Fair Finance Watch.

Back on April 11, Inner City Press submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Federal Reserve for it communication with and about RBC and City National. Only on September 30, more than five MONTHS later, did the Fed response. In the spirit of transparency, we are putting the FOIA response online here.

  It shows among many other things that RBC was meeting with the Federal Reserve well before the public announcement of its City National proposal; it has many redactions which we will be appealing, for example “When you have a chance, please put a note in our files indicating that we asked Charles Fleet about [REDACTED] (b)(5) . Thanks.”

FOIA: On Royal Bank of Canada-CNB, Here's Federal Reserve's Response to ICP On FOIA Five Months Ago by Matthew Russell Lee

  The LA Times has reported on the "letter from the Fed [which] asks the banks to respond to questions raised in written comments by [FFW]. Spokesmen for the banks declined to comment.... Fair Finance Watch, a New York advocacy group for minorities, questioned a deal between the banks in a June 11 comment letter to the Fed."

  Inner City Press first put that Fed letter online, here; then Canada's National / Financial Post reported without credit it had "obtained" it.

  By contrast, in another pending proposal, CBSI - Oneida, the Syracuse Post-Standard disclosed that "Inner City Press forwarded the letter to news outlets. Some of the Fed's questions focus on whether Community could improperly control matters at Oneida in advance of the acquisition. Community is working on Fed's questions, said Hal Wentworth, Community's senior vice president for retail banking."

  One common theme is that non-control (and therefore antitrust) laws are being violated. One difference is that CBSI does comment to the media -- if only to blame the messenger -- while larger RBC and CNB do not. Arrogance?

 On CBSI's blaming the messenger, FFW has commented to the Fed that it will "will comment again when CBSI has provided a copy of its response to the FRS' questions of July 13. Beyond the CRA and impermissible “control” questions raised therein, we wish at this time to raise the issues that, in a public response to ICP's comments, CBSI's SVP for retail banking said the following, in a prepared statement no less:

'In a statement today, Hal Wentworth, Community's senior vice president for retail banking, said that Inner City Press is not a local group and pointed out that letter was the only one filed on the Oneida deal. "This activist does not do business with either Oneida or Community Bank."'

If it would be inappropriate for CBSI to comment on or disclose information about its customers, in this context the same applies to the above-quoted, which, separately, is reminiscent of human rights abusing countries emphasizing where the rights groups who study and report on them are based."

  On June 6, FFW submitted into the record before the Fed:

"RBC, City National off to friendly start ahead of $5.4B takeover Globe and Mail, May 26, 2015, quoted from below.

  Now the Federal Reserve has asked RBC:

"A commenter alleged that in May 2015 RBC and CNB collaborated to extend credit to a customer of CNB.  Please address this claim. In your response, discuss in detail in detail whether RBC exercises a controlling influence over the management or policies of CNC or CNB without prior approval of the Board. In addition, discuss whether, since entering into the proposed transaction, RBC and CNB have collaborated, or plan to collaborate, on extending credit to any other borrower, and describe the nature and circumstances of those collaborations."

  There are other problems, including RBC's non-compete agreement with PNC Financial Services. But this gun-jumping should be fatal to the proposed merger. FFW put this into the record before the Fed:

“Royal Bank of Canada won’t complete its $5.4-billion (U.S.) purchase of Los Angeles-based City National Bank for months, but the two banks are already getting a jump on doing business together.

City National chief executive officer Russell Goldsmith got a call earlier this month from a long-time customer who wanted speedy approval of a loan worth hundreds of millions of dollars to do an acquisition.

“But he was familiar with RBC, knew about the merger and asked whether RBC could help get this done.”“The client knew it was an amount of money beyond what we would normally lend,” the 65-year-old Harvard-educated lawyer said in an interview.

Working closely with Blair Fleming, head of RBC’s U.S. capital markets unit, the two banks signed off on the loan within 72 hours.

'It’s typical of what we do,” explained Mr. Goldsmith, whose grandfather co-founded City National in 1954 and whose father, Bram, is chairman emeritus. “We have a relationship [with the client]. …We already had the financial information. So we could do what we needed to do. On top of it, having RBC Capital Markets come into it meant we could do it with greater scale.'”

  FFW has told the Fed: This is entirely inappropriate and the FRB must act, publicly.  The Federal Reserve sent the letter.

Royal Bank of Canada Is Asked About Jumping the Gun by Federal Reserve After Fair Finance Watch Complaint by Matthew Russell Lee

 Please note that RBC's belated release of some documents it improperly sought confidential treatment for does not resolve ICP's FOIA request - we are awaiting an FRB ruling in order to, if need be, appeal. The comment period, including for the reasons set forth above, must be extended and on the current record, the application must be denied and enforcement action(s) taken.

   The Federal Reserve Board granted FFW an extension of the comment period on the proposed merger, through June 11, FRB letter here, due to RBC improperly withholding information which was subsequently released after a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Inner City Press.

   FFW comment on June 11 - but submitted to the Fed an objection dated June 6 noting the two banks admitted they are already working together on transactions, without any authorization.


Your support means a lot. As little as $5 a month helps keep us going and grants you access to exclusive bonus material on our Patreon page. Click here to become a patron.


Feedback: Editorial [at]
SDNY Press Room 480, front cubicle
500 Pearl Street, NY NY 10007 USA

Mail: Box 20047, Dag Hammarskjold Station NY NY 10017

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

 Copyright 2006-2023 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]