The US Justice Department and the state of North Carolina are settling with a major US bank to resolve allegations that the lender discriminated against its community for years.
In a press release, the Justice Department says First National Bank of Pennsylvania (FNB) redlined predominantly black and hispanic neighborhoods in Charlotte and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Redlining is when services – typically financial in nature – are denied to certain areas based on race or ethnicity.
The complaint against FNB alleges that the bank failed to provide mortgage lending services to predominantly black and hispanic communities between 2017 and 2021, citing as evidence the fact that other lenders generated applications in the same neighborhoods at two-and-a-half and four times the rate of FNB.
FNB, which oversees $45 billion in assets, had its branches located in predominantly white neighborhoods and had closed down its Winston-Salem branch – a mostly black area – in 2021.
It’s also alleged that FNB was employing mortgage loan officers who were working out of mostly white neighborhoods and wasn’t tracking how they were developing their loan referrals or how they were distributing marketing materials.
Says Attorney General Merrick B. Garland,
“Lending discrimination violates the law and harms communities and entire families for generations. Today’s settlement will invest $13.5 million in expanding access to credit services for Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Charlotte and Winston-Salem that for too long have been denied to them.
With this settlement, the Justice Department’s Combating Redlining Initiative has now secured over $122 million in relief for communities across the country. But we recognize how much work we have left to do, and we are not letting up in our efforts to combat discrimination in lending wherever it occurs.”
The DOJ’s Combating Redlining Initiative was announced in 2021, and was dubbed as the department’s “most aggressive and coordinated enforcement effort to address redlining.”
FNB has over $45 billion in assets and is one of the 100 largest banks in the US, with approximately 350 branches throughout the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
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