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Review: Podcast by WSJ & Gimlet Claiming Brooks' OCC Helped People of Color Rings False

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

SOUTH BRONX, May 21 – For possible the most misleading, albeit well-produced, episode of a news podcast, Inner City Press has a nominee: the Wall Street Journal's (and Gimlet's) May 17, 2021 episode claiming that in 2020 the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency under Brian Brooks decided to urge banks to be fairer to people of color, here.

"5/17/2021 4:00:00 PM No Credit Score, No Problem? Banks could begin issuing credit cards to people without credit scores thanks to an effort by a banking regulator to make lending more racially equitable. WSJ's AnnaMaria Andriotis tells the story of how Black Lives Matter protests sparked the effort and explains how the lending would work."


  The episode does not even mention the Community Reinvestment Act, much less that this Brian Brooks like Joseph Otting before him assaulted the law, and also issues a since reversed "True Lender" (or Fake Lender) rule expanding high cost predatory lending, disproportionately to people of color.

  The episode is sponsored by Capital One, a rogue particularly in high cost auto lending. Was Gimlet only on the production quality, and not fact checking? The WSJ does some good reporting, but this was not among it. More podcast reviews will follow.

  Out in the real world, in the declared wind-down of the Coronavirus pandemic, at least in the U.S., and after a fintech and crypto-currency proponent replaced as Acting Comptroller of the Currency by Michael Hsu from the Federal Reserve, Nicolet National Bank with only six loans to African American versus 2,800 to whites has applied to the OCC to buy MBank.

  Fair Finance Watch has opposed it: "Office of the Comptroller of the Currency  Acting Comptroller Hsu and  Central District Office Director for District Licensing 425 South Financial Place, Suite 2700 Chicago, IL 60605  

Re: Timely First Comment on Application by Nicolet National Bank to acquire mBank - application must be denied, and referral made, based on striking disparities 

Dear Acting Comptroller Hsu & others at OCC: 

This is a timely first comment opposing and requesting an extension of the OCC's public comment period on the Applications by Nicholet National Bank to acquire mBank.   

   Shockingly, the applicant Nicolet National Bank in the state of Wisconsin in 2019 made 2,800 HMDA-reported mortgage loans to white - and only SIX to African Americans.   

 Beyond this disparity which requires denial of this merger application, compare to the industry as a whole in the state of Wisconsin in 2019: 171,953 loans to whites, 2926 to African Americans.   

The industry as a whole in Wisconsin in 2019 made 58.7 loans to whites for every loan to an African American.  

  For Nicolet National Bank, the ratio was FOUR HUNDRED AND SIXTY SEVEN loans to whites for every loan to an African America.     There is more to be said, but on this outrageous record, evidentiary hearings and referrals are required, and the merger application must be withdrawn or denied." Watch this site.

  Previously, on April 3, Fair Finance Watch filed this: "Dear Acting Comptroller, 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 by SoFi Interim Bank to acquire Golden Pacific.       This is a major proposal, by a fintech in which SoftBank has a large stake.    

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

  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. See also, for now, this  

This stealth proposal - it appears that Golden Pacific does not even report HMDA data - is a cynical attempt to game the regulatory system. See, e.g., "SoFi (NYSE:IPOE) is becoming a bank with its $22.3 million acquisition of Golden Pacific Bancorp (OTCPK:GPBI). Golden Pacific is a California-based community bank regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and with $150 million in assets. The acquisition which will be paid for in cash builds on SoFi's current application to obtain a national bank charter with the OCC. On closing of the acquisition, the fintech company will switch its current bank application to a change of control application. This should accelerate the timeline for SoFi's attainment of a national bank charter."    Inner City Press opposes that CIBC application as well - but this application clearly should not be approved. Public hearings are needed, and requested.   

   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." Watch this site.



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