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As BMO Harris Seeks Bank of the West Bulls Exec Shills & Fair Finance Watch Cites Ukraine

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Story
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, July 14 – Whether or not the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act will actually be enforced until the new Administration and its regulators remains an open question. Back in December Inner City Press reported that BMO Harris' application to buy Bank of the West and its more than 500 branches from BNP would be a litmus test.

 Fair Finance Watch noted, from Day 1, that in 2020 BMO Harris denied many more mortgage applications from African Americans than it approved: 509 denied versus only 223 loans made to African Americans, nationwide. BMO's numbers for whites were the reverse: 9270 loans made, versus less then six thousand denials.

On May 17 the Federal Reserve and OCC announced that they will at least hold a public meeting: The public meeting would be held virtually on July 14, 2022.

And on that day, Fair Finance Watch testified, then Inner City Press live tweeted, below:

Good afternoon. I'm Matthew Lee and on behalf of Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press, this three minute statement concerns the proposal by Bank of Montral Harris to acquire BNP Paribas' Bank of the West. [Ad libbed about the need for more hearings on mid-sized mergers, and for Fed and OCC merger process review as FDIC has; named-checked Michael Barr and his duties.]

On the Community Reinvestment Act and fair lending. Fair Finance Watch conducted an analysis of the 2021 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data of BMO Harris Bank and finds the disparities troubling.  In 2021 nationwide, BMO Harris Bank made only 289 mortgages to African Americans, versus 10,709 to whites. BMO Harris Bank's denial rate disparty was even more troubling: 5,889 denials to whites, half of its number of loans to whites. For African Americans, 647 denials, roughly three times it number of loans of to African Americans. A five to one disparity?

These disparities should not just result in a Fed footnote that the data cited by Fair Finance Watch is accurate but HMDA data is not probative. The recently confirmed Governors, particularly yesterday's confirmee Michael Barr, should go on the record on this before the Board rules. 

 As you will hear from other witnesses...  there are branch closing issues that should be addressed.  

 There is another issue which Inner City Press hereby timely raises to the Federal Reserve Board: the questionable and shifting position of BNP Paribas on Russia and its war on Ukraine. This year BNP told its employees to watch out from criticizing Russia's invasion, even on social media. See, e.g., this: "Watch what you say about Russian invasion, BNP Paribas warns bankers - Bank tells staff to clarify that any social media posts represent their own, personal views."

 As a managerial and corruption issue, BMO Harris was exposed by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kathleen Sanberg, who ruled that BMO “intentionally destroyed and failed to preserve” evidence of emails and other communications between the Petters company and its bank. She sanctioned BMO by saying the trustee could tell the jury about the destroyed evidence and also introduce documents over the bank’s objection. See, Kelley v. BMO Harris Bank N.A., 19-cv-01756, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota (St. Paul).   These issues must be addressed; on the current record, the application should not be approved.

Then, the threadette:

Just testified to the Fed and OCC about Bank of Montreal - BNP Paribas merger, urging both regulators to do better. Beyond lending disparities, raised BMP's ham-handed gagging of its employees about the war in Ukraine, and a troubling BMO case 19-cv-01756

Corporate circus: Over-the-top testimony in favor of merger of Bank of Montreal & BNP Paribas' Bank of the West is Reinsdorf of the NBA's Chicago Bulls. Mortgage lending disparities, shameful positions on Ukraine and destruction of evidence ignored. Bull, indeed.

Collusion circus: so many of those supporting the merger begin identically, calling regulators Alison Tho, Colette Fried, Ben Olson, Jason Almonte & Donna Murphy "Commissioner" that it's clear they were coordinated. The banks are having / forcing borrowers to sing

We'll have more on this- watch this site.


 Inner City Press (and Fair Finance Watch, on the HMDA) will have more to say about this. Watch this site.


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