WASHINGTON – Three Senate Democrats are calling for an investigation into reports that currency auditor officials have dropped at least half a dozen investigations into racial discrimination and redlining.
Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada asked the Treasury Department's acting inspector-general Richard Delmar to investigate how the OCC dealt with allegations of discriminatory lending practices at at least six banks.
"According to recent reports, senior OCC officials have given up their responsibilities and allowed banks to continue business as usual despite alleged violations of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Fair Housing Act," the senators wrote to Delmar on Thursday. "This behavior is in stark contrast to the OCC's demand for law enforcement, its finding that credit discrimination is" destructive, morally offensive and against the law ", and its commitment not to tolerate any form of credit discrimination . "
The senators' letter followed a July 13 ProPublica report that OCC officials had found over the past three years that at least six banks, including Bank of America and Cadence Bancorp, were allegedly issuing discriminatory loans, but did not reprimand the institutions or have punished. The report said the investigation was closed and closed after the OCC officials failed to bring in experts trained to identify patterns of abuse and took the "unusual step" of bringing in new lawyers into the case.
Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., And Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Are soliciting acting Inspector General of the Treasury Richard Delmar for an investigation into how the OCC has handled allegations of discrimination is lending practices at at least six banks.
However, a spokesman for the OCC said the agency denied the allegations made in the article.
"While it is inappropriate to publicly discuss confidential regulatory information, the OCC questions the allegations and inaccuracies of the original article, despite information to the contrary on file," said spokesman Bryan Hubbard in a statement sent via email. "We welcome the opportunity to discuss the matter with the Senators, just as we did with the House Financial Services Committee chair and ranking staff to correct the record."
The letter calls on Delmar to review the existing processes and procedures for OCC staff and officials to initiate, conduct and complete fair lending investigations, and the extent to which staff follow these procedures.
Among other things, the Senators asked Delmar to check whether OCC employees and officials were postponing the investigation due to expert judgments or pressure from the Trump administration. The letter also sought answers on whether OCC leadership responded to recommendations from staff trained to analyze and detect fair lending violations.
The Senators also asked the Treasury Inspector General to investigate whether the OCC is using its law enforcement agencies appropriately to impose fines on banks that violate fair lending laws and regulations.