Inner City Press

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYTAzerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

Share |   

Follow on TWITTER

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube

More: InnerCityPro
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

OCC Withheld US Bank CEO Letter It Used To Approve Union Bank Merger now Denies Appeal

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Maxwell book

SOUTH BRONX NYC, March 18  – How untransparent and pro-bank are today's regulators, including the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency?

The example on February 10, 2023 was the OCC's denial in full of Inner City Press' Freedom of Information Act request about its approval of U.S. Bank's application to acquire Union Bank, which Fair Finance Watch and others challenged under the Community Reinvestment Act. 

 Inner City Press submitted the request in November 2022, and immediately clarified and narrowed the request after an OCC inquiry.

On February 10, 2023, the OCC responded - and withholds 16 pages in full, providing no information at all. This on the day the OCC holds a symposium about mergers - with speakers from corporate law firms.

Here's from the OCC's letter:

"Your request for the October 10, 2022 letter from Andrew Cecere and records related or directly referenced in the October 10, 2022 is denied.

We have withheld 16 pages..."

On February 14, Inner City Press filed its appeal:

"This is a FOIA appeal of the OCC's denial in full of the FOIA request I submitted on November 23, 2022 on behalf of Inner City Press and in my personal capacity, which the OCC summarized: "You requested the OCC's U.S. Bank - Union Bank merger approval order, including any conditions and any and all records related to the basis for the conditions, and approval. By PAL message dated December 7, 2022, you clarified that you are seeking the October 10, 2022 letter from Andrew Cecere to OCC as referenced in the approval order and records related or directly referenced in the October 10, 2022 letter (Date Range for Record Search: From 01/01/2022 To 11/23/2022)." 

 On February 10, 2023 -- eleven weeks after the request -- the OCC denied the narrowed request in full, providing not a single line or portion of the letter on which the OCC conditioned its merger approval. This is outrageous, and is hereby (within days, not weeks) appealed. 

  FOIA expressly mandates that any "reasonably segregable portion" of a record must be disclosed to a requester after the redaction (the deletion of part of a document to prevent disclosure of material covered by an exemption) of the parts which are exempt. 5 U.S.C. § 552(b). And see, Trans-Pac. Policing Agreement v. U.S. Customs Serv., 177 F.3d 1022,1028 (D.C.Cir. 1999) and PHE, Inc. v. Dep’t. of Justice, 983 F.2d 248,252 (D.C.Cir. 1993). 

 The OCC's approval order said:  "The Resulting Bank shall comply with the commitments contained in the letter from Andrew Cecere, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Bank National Association, to Tanya Smith, Deputy Comptroller for Large Bank Supervision, dated October 10, 2022." 

  The public and community groups have a right to know about, assess and act on the regulation and supervision activities of the OCC, which purport to protect and assist consumers. But to say that the approval is based on "commitments" by the bank - with its own compliance problems - while keeping those commitments entirely secret from the public undermines this principle, and the credibility of the OCC. It is inconsistent with the Administration's and Acting Controller's claims. The denial should be immediately reverse, and the letter provided."

On March 16, 2023, OCC Deputy General Counsel Patricia S. Grady denied the appeal in full - the bank's commitment letter the OCC based its approval all it totally secret. This while banks are failing. She wrote: "The October 10 letter is a communication between the Bank and the supervisory office
responsible for the examination of the Bank, related to commitments made by the Bank that are
matters of supervisory concern and related to the examination of the Bank. Likewise, the related
information is connected to the OCC’s exercise of its regulatory responsibilities over the Bank
and to the examination of the Bank. Therefore, the requested information is covered by the
broad scope of Exemption 8. Accordingly, I find that these records were properly withheld
under Exemption 8." Full letter now on Inner City Press' DocumentCloud here. This is unacceptable.

  Watch this site.


Your support means a lot. As little as $5 a month helps keep us going and grants you access to exclusive bonus material on our Patreon page. Click here to become a patron.


Feedback: Editorial [at]
SDNY Press Room 480, front cubicle
500 Pearl Street, NY NY 10007 USA

Mail: Box 20047, Dag Hammarskjold Station NY NY 10017

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

 Copyright 2006-2023 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]