Meeks Addresses Letter to Comptroller of Currency Otting Regarding Troublesome Comments on Discrimination in Lending
Washington, DC - Today, Senior Member of the House Committee on Financial Services, U.S. Representative Gregory W. Meeks, submitted the following letter to the Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting regarding a June 13th hearing. The letter asks Otting to clarify whether he believes discrimination exists in the financial services industry and whether he will vigorously enforce the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which was enacted to stop discrimination against protected classes. Otting has previously voiced support for rolling back disclosure laws related to discriminatory lending and has appeared unaware that discrimination is a real problem.
Text of Letter:
Comptroller Joseph Otting
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
400 7th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20219
Dear Comptroller Joseph Otting:
I write with deep concerns regarding your response to Democratic questioning related to discrimination and fair lending at the June 13, 2018 hearing before the House Committee on Financial Services.
As you know, your agency is one of many responsible for enforcing the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) which was enacted to stamp out discrimination against protected classes in the financial services industry. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is responsible for examining their regulated entities’ compliance with ECOA and the agency may issue financial penalties, require institutions to modify their practices, and/or refer violations to the Department of Justice for legal action.
Between the years of 2001-2016, the federal financial and housing regulators referred a total of 451 lending discrimination cases to the Department of Justice, including 11 such cases originating from referrals from the OCC.
As one of the main regulators with jurisdiction over our fair lending laws, it is deeply troubling that you suggested that you have not observed discrimination within the financial industry nor even know whether discrimination exists in other societal contexts. Compounding this problem, you have made public comments in support of the Trump Administration’s concerted effort to rollback anti-discrimination disclosure rules under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act calling the regime a “burden on the banking system” in a February 2018 statement. In other words, you have supported a rollback or delay of the very laws used to detect the same discrimination you are unaware exists. This amounts to blatant and willful ignorance.
As Questions for the Record, I ask that you submit to our Committee clarifying statements on whether or not you believe discrimination exists in our society, whether it is an issue that should be monitored in our financial system, and whether you commit to being a vigorous enforcer of our fair lending laws. Furthermore, I ask that you further clarify what role you believe fair lending reviews should play within the context of examinations under the Community Reinvestment Act.