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Old National - 1st Midwest Was CRA Protested Now Fed Delays on FOIA But Closes Ears

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

FEDERAL COURT / S Bronx, July 23 – Whether or not the U.S. Community Reinvestment Act will be again enforced until the new Administration and its regulators is an open question. And the proposed merger of two redlining banks, M&T and People's United, will be a litmus test, see below.

And this one: Old National's proposal to buy First Midwest. On June 28, Fair Finance Watch and Inner City Press on the FOIA) filed the below with the Fed.

Andon July 21-22, these Federal Reserve questions to Old National's outside counsel at Patton Boggs below. But the next day, the Fed told Patton Bogg it was denying Fair Finance Watch's request to keep the comment period open, even while the Fed has yet to provide FOIA documents despite ostensibly granting expedited treatment to Inner City Press' request. This is a pro-corporate circus, that should be exposed under the new Antitrust Executive Order.

The Fed's questions: "July 21, 2021  Ms. Katie Wechsler Of Counsel Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP 2550 M Street, NW Washington, DC 20037 Dear Ms. Wechsler: This correspondence relates to the application submitted by Old National Bancorp (Old National), Evansville, Indiana, to acquire through merger First Midwest Bancorp (First Midwest), and its subsidiary, First Midwest Bank, both of Chicago, Illinois, pursuant to section 3 of the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 and Section 225.15 of Regulation Y of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board). Based on staff’s review of the current record, the following additional information, including the information in the Confidential Attachment, is requested. Supporting documentation, as appropriate, should be provided. Financial and Managerial 1. Provide pro forma financial statements and capital ratios as of June 30, 2021 for Old National and Old National Bank, as soon as available. 2. Provide the employment agreement for Michael Scudder. 3. Provide an update, if any, on the status of other required regulatory approvals for the proposed transaction, including state approvals. 4. Confirm the anticipated closing date of the merger. Confirm whether the bank merger and the holding company merger will occur on the same date. Legal 5. In response to Question 16 of the FR Y-3 application dated June 18, 2021 (“the Application”), you state that First Midwest Bank has five active wholly-owned operating subsidiaries. The list of five subsidiaries includes “First Midwest Holdings, Inc.” twice, and indicates that First Midwest Holdings, Inc. has a wholly-owned subsidiary, FMB Investments Ltd.  a. Confirm the number of active wholly-owned operating subsidiaries held either directly or indirectly by First Midwest Bank. If any of these subsidiaries were not listed in response to Question 16, identify them and provide brief descriptions of their respective activities.  b. Confirm whether First Midwest Securities Management, LLC is a wholly- owned operating subsidiary of First Midwest Bank. If so, provide a brief  description of its activities.  6. As referenced in the Agreement and Plan of Merger dated May 30, 2021, provide the First Midwest Disclosure Schedule and Old National Disclosure Schedule. 7. The response to Question 21(d) of the Application does not indicate whether any state community reinvestment laws apply to Old National. 12 U.S.C. § 1842(d)(3)(B) requires the Board to consider an applicant’s record of compliance with applicable state community reinvestment laws. Confirm that the Old National organization (i.e., Old National and its subsidiaries) is not subject to a state community reinvestment law in any jurisdiction in which it operates. If the Old National organization is subject to a state community reinvestment law, discuss the Old National organization’s record of compliance with the applicable state law(s). Convenience and Needs and Consumer Compliance 8. Page 4 of the Application states that the “Resultant Bank” will continue to maintain all the current branches of both Old National Bank and First Midwest Bank; however, the response to Question 20(c) also states, “As of this date, no final decision has been made with respect to branch closing or consolidations.” a. Clarify whether a decision will be made prior to consummation on which branches will be closed or consolidated as a result of the merger. b. Provide information about how branches will be evaluated when determining whether branches will be closed or consolidated as a result of the merger. c. Discuss how the impact of any branch closures in low- and middle-income and/or majority-minority communities will be mitigated.  9. Describe which components of First Midwest Bank’s and Old National Bank’s consumer compliance programs will be adopted into the Resultant Bank’s consumer compliance program. 

 10. Provide information on the Resultant Bank’s processes and procedures in the event that products are discontinued for existing customers and existing customers are transitioned into new products as a result of the merger. 11. Confirm whether the Resultant Bank plans to expand its Community Reinvestment Act assessment areas after the merger beyond the existing assessment areas of both Old National Bank and First Midwest Bank. Please submit your response to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis within eight business days. In accordance with the Board’s procedures regarding ex parte communications, provide a copy of the public portion of your response (together with any attachments) directly to the commenter."

The comment: Dear Chair Powell, Secretary Misback and others in the FRS: This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the FRB's public comment period on the Applications by Old National Bancorp, Evansville, Indiana; to merge with First Midwest Bancorp, Inc., and thereby indirectly acquire First Midwest Bank.    

 The applicant Old Nationa in Indiana in 2019 based on its disparate marketing made 3312 mortgage loans to whites, with 1060 denials to whites -- while making only SIXTY TWO loans to African Americans, with more than that in denials: 65. This is outrageous.   This is unacceptable.  

Worse, in 2020 in Indiana Old National made MORE loans to whites than in 2019 (3976) and essentially the same to African Americans (65). 

 In 2020 in Minnesota, based on its disparate marketing, Old National made 1387 loans to whites, and only fifty to African American.    This is totally unacceptable.  

So is this: "First Midwest CEO likely to see pay jump following Old ... First Midwest's merger with the Evansville, Ind.-based parent of Old National Bank will have the unusual distinction of employing two bank CEOs and two bank...."- Crain's Chicago Business    There is no public benefit to this proposal.     FFW and Inner City Press have been deeply concerned about the rush by the FRS' penchant to rubberstamp mergers by redliners, particularly during the pandemic. We note the Fed's recent website statement that a comment period has been extended to allow participation amid the Coronavirus crisis. This should be done, by the Fed's logic, on this and other applications. Inner City Press has already filed a FOIA request with the Board for records, today, with the application still not on the Board's website, which has no comment period running past June 17 - the responsive records must be provided before the comment period can close.

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

  While M&T - People's United still pends in the Federal Reserve, with a promised expedited FOIA response still not forthcoming, the Fed in mid May approved PNC - BBVA, with a rare abstention by Governor Lael Brainard, albeit on antitrust and not CRA or fair lending grounds.


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