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Lakeland Bank DOJ Settlement Left Disparities in NY Unaddressed But Fed Slow on the Draw

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Maxwell book
BBC - Honduras - CIA Trial book - NY Mag

SOUTH BRONX NY, Dec 10 – When the US Department of Justice sued and immediately settled with Lakeland Bank for fair lending violations, it announced a proposed merger with Provident Bank.

As if to sweep it under the carpet.

And when Fair Finance Watch looked into it, it found that the DOJ settlement did not address in any way the banks' disparities in New York. So on December 1, the FDIC's comment deadline, it filed with the FDIC, with Inner City Press on the FOIA.

On December 9, Inner City Press filed with the Federal Reserve, asking for a copy of the application that day. As of December 10, none has been provided. This is unacceptable - what this site.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Attn: Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg, Frank Hughes 350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1200 New York, NY 10118-0110  Re: Comment on Applications by Provident Bank to merge with Lakeland Bank 

Dear Chairman Gruenberg, Regional Director Hughes and others at the FDIC:   This is a timely comment on, the Application of Provident Bank to merge with Lakeland Bank which appears on the FDIC website under "Applications In Process Subject to the CRA Report" with an initial comment periods running through December 1. This comment is timely. And as set forth below, the FDIC should extend its comment period, at least until December 15 to coincide with the Federal Reserve comment period on the proposed holding company merger.   

  Lakeland was sued by DOJ and settled, just before this proposed merger was announced. See here "The DOJ said that all of Lakeland’s branches were located in majority-white neighborhoods and that its loan officers did not serve the credit needs of Black and Hispanic neighborhoods...  Lakeland, a community bank, operates 68 branches in northern New Jersey and in New York’s Hudson Valley." 

  Notably, the settlement does not address in any way Lakeland's redlining in New York.

   But consider, for the record: in 2021 in New York based on its disparate marketing Lakeland made 27 mortgage loans to whites -- while making NO loans to African Americans. None. Zero. Zip. This must be addressed.  

And it would not be addressed by Provident, which in New York in 2021 made 20 mortgage loans to whites -- while making NO loans to African Americans. None. Zero. Zip. This merger should be denied.

   Note also that in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, this proposed merger is already the subject of two lawsuits: 22-cv-9946 and 22-cv-9980. 

Inner City Press is requesting an extension of the public comment period, public / virtual evidentiary hearings and that, on the current record, the applications not be approved      FFW and Inner City Press have been deeply concerned about the rush by the FDIC's to rubber-stamp mergers by redliners, money launderers and predatory lenders. This has been killing the Community Reinvestment Act and we timely request public hearings.  The comment period should be extended; evidentiary hearings should be held; and on the current record, the application should not be approved.

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