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SoFi Bank Charter Rubber Stamped by Pro FinTech Comptroller Brooks After FFW Protest

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SOUTH BRONX, Oct 28 – In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, and with a fintech and crypto-currency proponent installed as Acting Comptroller, SoFi and its controller SoftBank are seeking to get a U.S. bank charter. The WSJ and others have reported the bid, but it is not yet on the OCC's website (which often lags behind such that public comment periods end before notice is given). 

 Meanwhile Inner City Press' requests under the Freedom of Information Act into Acting Comproller Brian P. Brooks' conflicts of interest in the fintech and crypto-currency world have yet to be answers.  

And so on July 13 Fair Finance Watch filed with the OCC, including this: "July 13, 2020
 Office of the Comptroller of the Currency  DC Comptroller Brooks and Mr. Lybarger, Deputy Comptroller for Licensing  & Northeastern District Office 
 Re: Timely First Comment on SoFi's reported application to the OCC to get into banking 

Dear Mr. Lybarger, Ms. Cummings 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 reported proposal by SoFi to get a national bank charter.  

    This is a major proposal, by a fintech in which SoftBank has a large stake. Yet, it is not yet on the OCC's website, where as of July 13 the most recent Weekly Bulletin cuts on on July 4. The only charter application listed as open for comment is Monzo Bank; the New Bank application link does not work. So, any comment period will have be be extended. This is a request for the complete application, all portions that the OCC after review does not find withholdable under FOIA. 

     Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch opposed SoFi's previous, suspended attempt to get into banking. Since then the questions have only grown.  

    For now, we note that Inner City Press asked the OCC's FOIA unit for a copy of Comptroller Brooks' conflict of interest list with fintechs but has yet to receive it. Pending receipt, we ask that Acting Comptroller Brooks be recused from this application and that you confirm this in writing.

      As to SoftBank, the dispute regarding another of its holdings, WeWork, portends the type of problems that regulators like the OCC are directed to keep out of, not invite into, the banking system.

     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, and Comptroller Brooks' should be recused pending/and his conflict of interest list should be released."

And now on October 28, Brooks' OCC has rubber stamped the application, stating "The OCC received one comment related to the Proposed Bank’s plans for complying with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA, 12 USC 2901 et seq.), asserting, among other things, that the CRA plan included with the application only provides an outline of proposed activities without sufficient details. The OCC also received one other comment opposing approval of the charter application for reasons not related to the CRA and requesting an extension of the comment period. The CRA requires that the OCC take a national bank’s or federal savings association’s (bank) CRA record into account when evaluating an application for a deposit facility. 12  SoFi Bank, National Association, Cottonwood Heights, Utah (proposed) OCC Control Nos. 2020-WE-Charter-315294 and 2020-WE-Waiver-315536  2  USC 2903(a)(2). An application for a deposit facility is defined to mean, among other things, “a charter for a national bank or federal savings and loan association.” 12 USC 2902(3)(A). The CRA regulations require that “[a]n applicant... for a national bank charter must submit with its application a description of how it will meet its CRA objectives, if applicable.” 12 CFR 25.02(b). The Proposed Bank’s charter application included a CRA plan that provided an initial description of how it proposes to help meet the credit needs of its community. With regard to the commenter’s concerns about the sufficiency of the Proposed Bank’s CRA plan, the CRA requires the OCC to consider a proposed insured bank’s description of how it will meet the credit needs of its community in considering a charter application. 12 CFR 25.02(b). The OCC expects that organizers of a bank will begin to develop a CRA plan during the charter application phase; however, the OCC does not expect a bank to have a fully developed plan at this stage. The CRA plan should be finalized after a bank has received preliminary conditional approval from the OCC, but prior to final approval of the charter application. The Bank has demonstrated in its charter application and through discussions with OCC staff that it understands the requirements of the CRA and has begun to develop a CRA plan. The Bank is considering a strategic plan pursuant to 12 CFR 25.18, and the OCC will work with the Bank in the development of a strategic plan if this alternative is chosen." Rush job, rubber stamp. Watch this site. 


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