Watchdogging Fair Lending Evasion, FFW Challenges Redliner BancorpSouth at FDIC
By Matthew Russell Lee

South Bronx, New York, August 26 – The lack of seriousness in US bank regulation, the mechanical repeating of whatever a challanged bank says, is exemplified by the application by BancorpSouth, which Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch challenged on disparities and which settled racial redlining charges, to drop its Federal Reserve charter and evade regulation. 

Now ICP/FFW has timely protested that application to the FDIC: "Dear Regional Director Elmquist, Ass't Regional Director Finnegan and others at the FDIC: "This is a first timely comment opposing, requesting hearings and an extension of the comment period on BancorpSouth's cynical application to evade regulation after its redlining and settlement. 

Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch protested the applications of BancorpSouth to merge with Ouachita Bancshares Corporation and thereby indirectly acquire Ouachita Independent Bank, and with Central Community Corporation, and thereby indirectly acquire First State Bank Central Texas, Austin, Texas. - based on racial discrimination in lending... Now BancorpSouth makes this application, and its CEO Dan Rollins states that it wants to “alleviate... regulatory oversight,” and become the “only state-chartered bank not a part of the Federal Reserve system.” 

We oppose this cynical evasion, particularly by one of the few banks having settled redlining charges. Let's compare: reviewing the 2015 HMDA data released by the FFIEC, ICP examined BancorpSouth's conventional home purchase lending in the Jackson, Mississippi and Baton Rouge, Louisiana and finds them troubling. In 2015 in the Jackson MS MSA for conventional home purchase loans, BancorpSouth made 346 loans to whites, only 53 to African Americans. BancorpSouth's denial rate for whites was 7% while for African Americans it was 19% -- 2.71 times higher. This was troubling. 

In 2015 in the Baton Rouge LA MSA for conventional home purchase loans, BancorpSouth made 47 such loans to whites and NONE to African Americans, even less than the three it made in 2012. BancorpSouth has grown more disparate. ICP is requesting evidentiary hearings and that this proposed acquisition, on the current record, not be approved. There is no public benefit."