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The Department of Justice has entered into a proposed consent order with two Ohio-based banks resolving allegations that the banks engaged in a pattern or practice of redlining in their mortgage lending practices by “structuring their businesses to avoid the credit needs of majority black neighborhoods” in four Ohio and Indiana MSAs. The banks, Union Savings Bank and Guardian Savings Bank, are both headquartered in Cincinnati Ohio and share common ownership and management. The consent orders come just a few weeks after the CFPB reinforced its emphasis on fair lending violations. The consent order, if approved, requires the banks to invest $7 million in loan subsidies and spend at least $2 million in advertising, outreach, financial education and community partnerships in the Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and Indianapolis metropolitan areas. The consent order additionally requires Union Savings Bank to add two full-service branches and Guardian Savings Bank to add one loan production office to serve the majority African American neighborhoods in their MSAs.
The complaint alleged that the banks violated both the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act by serving the credit needs of predominantly white neighborhoods to a significantly greater extent than they served the credit needs of majority African-American neighborhoods. The complaint alleged that both banks engaged in a race-based pattern of locating branches, noting that all of the banks’ branches were in majority white census tracts and that statistical analysis of their loan applications revealed significant disparities in their loan activities when compared to similar lenders in the same MSAs.
The consent order requires the banks engage an independent third party compliance management system consultant to assist in reviewing and revising their policies and practices to ensure compliance with fair lending laws. The Consent Order additionally requires that the banks:
The Consent Order will remain in effect for 63 months. A couple of other points worth noting: