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Fair Finance Watch Protests Figure Bank at OCC Which Is Now Sued By CSBS in DC District

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

SOUTH BRONX, NY, Dec 26– Even amid the Coronavirus pandemic, U.S. banks and fintechs keeps seeking to merge and expand, with less and less oversight.  Now the Conference of State Bank Supervisors has sued the OCC, see below, citing "extensive consultation with Figure that occurred during the draft application process."

 Fair Finance Watch, with Inner City Press on the FOIA, filed a Community Reinvestment Act protest / request for extension of the OCC comment period:

Dear Comptroller Brooks, Mr. Lybarger, and others in the OCC:  This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the required OCC's public comment period on the application of Figure Bank NA.    

  Back on November 23 Inner City Press submitted, through the OCC's FOIA portal, a request for "the entirety of the pending applications of, and all OCC communications since 1/1/2020 with... Figure. The records should be provided within the comment period on each application, including OCC communications with the companies and affiliates, given the policy issues raised by the application."       Now at the deadline, despite the policy issues, no response at all. This is unacceptable. The comment period must be extended - it is absurd to require the public to comment while having none of the information it timely requested.

       We will simply note for now that this proposal, and the rushing and cover up by the OCC, is an assault on the CRA.   

  On the obvious need for the OCC to respond to the FOIA request, from the public record: "Founder Mike Cagney is always pushing the envelope, and investors love him for it. Not long after sexual harassment allegations prompted him to leave SoFi, the personal finance company that he co-founded in 2011, he raised $50 million for a new lending startup called Figure that has since raised at least $225 million from investors and was valued a year ago at $1.2 billion.  Now, Cagney is trying to do something unprecedented with Figure."

Unprecedented - and covered up? Amid sexual harassment allegations?     

 For the above reasons, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, the comment period should not yet start or should extended, until in person public hearings can be held."

On December 10, a boiler plate acknowledgement of comment - with still no response at all to the FOIA request filed during the comment period: "Re: Figure Bank, National Association Charter Application OCC Control Number 2020-WE-Charter-317593

Dear Mr. Lee: The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency acknowledges receipt of your letter dated December 7, 2020 regarding the above referenced application. We appreciate your comments and will consider these remarks during our review of the application. A copy of your comment letter has been provided to the applicant for their information."

  Now the Conference of State Bank Supervisors has sued the OCC over Figure: "Because of the extensive consultation with Figure that occurred during the draft application process, and the OCC’s accepting the application as complete, the OCC’s imminent approval of the Figure Charter Application is a foregone conclusion. Additionally, the OCC is actively soliciting other applications for Nonbank Charters and has expressed publicly its enthusiasm for issuing Nonbank Charters. 28. Both CSBS and each of its members that currently supervise and regulate Figure’s operations in their states have already suffered actual injury as a result of the confusion and disruption of resource allocation created by the Nonbank Charter Program and Figure Charter Application, as described herein. Additional injuries to CSBS and its members are imminent as Figure prepares to begin operating as a chartered nonbank and the OCC continues its pursuit of Case 1:20-cv-03797 Document 1 Filed 12/22/20 Page 9 of 70 10 additional Nonbank Charter applicants. The injuries suffered by CSBS and its members have therefore taken a concrete and particularized form, and the legal challenge brought by CSBS is fit for adjudication. 29. For all of these reasons, the Nonbank Charter Program and the OCC’s imminent granting of a Nonbank Charter to Figure are subject to this Court’s review under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) and cannot stand. CSBS brings this action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief declaring the OCC’s Nonbank Charter Program and the Figure Charter unlawful and enjoining the OCC from soliciting, accepting, or approving applications for Nonbank Charters, including the Figure Charter Application. 30. Additionally, CSBS seeks a declaration that the OCC’s preemption regulations (found at 12 CFR §§ 7.4007, 7.4008, & 34.4) are invalid and enjoining the OCC from further action pursuant to those regulations."

This is today's OCC. It must change.

And, receipt confirmed by FDIC which also acknowledges FOIA requests unlike the OCC:

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Attn: Frank Hughes, Regional Director and Robert P. Cordeiro, Scott D. Strockoz 350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1200 New York, NY 10118-0110   Re: Timely First Comment on Applications by Hanover to acquire Savoy Bank.  Dear Regional Director Vogel and others at the FDIC: 

 This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the FDIC's public comment period on the Applications by Hanover to acquire Savoy Bank.   

   The applicant Hanover in the New York in 2019 made 67 home loans to whites and only THREE to African Americans. Note that Hanover's CRA assessment area includes The Bronx, and Brooklyn. 

  Hearings are requested on that; they may also touch on the financing of the proposed deal: "“We are pleased to announce the successful completion of our subordinated debt offering,” said Michael Puorro, Hanover’s Chairman and CEO. “This offering is directly aligned with Hanover’s strategic plan of high growth and high profitability, which continues to create significant shareholder value. The proceeds from this transaction provide us with the necessary capital to finance our recently announced partnership with Savoy Bank, as well as the ability to continue to compete in an exciting marketplace and to execute upon our longer-term strategic goals.”  Stephens Inc. acted as lead placement agent for the offering, with PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. acting as co-placement agent. Windels Marx served as legal counsel to Hanover and Covington & Burling LLP served as legal counsel for the placement agents." 

From the FDIC: Matthew R. Lee, Esq. Fair Finance Watch P.O. Box 20047 New York, New York 10017 Dear Mr. Lee:  We received your e-mail dated November 28, 2020, concerning Hanover Community Bank’s applications to acquire Savoy Bank. We reviewed your correspondence in accordance with the guidelines of 12 C.F.R. Section 303.2(c) and 303.2(l), and consider it a protest for the purpose of the applications. We forwarded your comments to the applicant

That is,

 Michael P. Puorro Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Hanover Community Bank 2131 Jericho Turnpike Garden City Park, New York 11040 Subject: Community Reinvestment Act Protest and the Removal of Application from Expedited Processing for Interagency Bank Merger Act Applications to acquire/merge with Savoy Bank, New York, New York Applications Tracking No. 20201214 and 20201215 Dear Mr. Puorro:  We are writing in reference to the enclosed e-mail correspondence that we received from Matthew R. Lee of Inner City Press/Fair Finance Watch, concerning your institution’s applications to acquire Savoy Bank. We reviewed the e-mail correspondence in accordance with the guidelines of 12 C.F.R. Section 303, and deemed it a Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) protest for the purpose of the applications. The subject e-mail raises issues regarding the bank’s record of lending to African American persons. The anticipated time and research required to investigate these issues has necessitated the removal of your applications from expedited processing.  You may provide a written response on the protest to me within ten business days after the date of this letter, in accordance with 12 C.F.R. Section 303


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