Associated Press, January 12, 2023
The Justice Department accused Los Angeles-based City National Bank on Thursday of discrimination by refusing to underwrite mortgages in predominately Black and Latino communities, requiring the bank to pay more than $31 million in the largest redlining settlement in department history.
City National is the latest bank in the past several years to be found systematically avoiding lending to racial and ethnic minorities, a practice that the Biden administration has set up its own task force to combat.
The Justice Department says that between 2017 and 2020, City National avoided marketing and underwriting mortgages in majority Black and Latino neighborhoods in Los Angeles County. Other banks operating in those neighborhoods received six times the number of mortgage applications that City National did, according to federal officials.
The Justice Department alleges City National, a bank with roughly $95 billion in assets, was so reluctant to operate in neighborhoods where most of the residents are people of color, the bank only opened one branch in those neighborhoods in the past 20 years. In comparison, the bank opened or acquired 11 branches in that time period. In addition, no employee was dedicated to underwriting mortgages at that one branch, unlike branches in majority white neighborhoods.
As part of the settlement, City National will create a $29.5 million loan subsidy fund for loans to Black and Latino borrowers, and spend $1.75 million on advertising, community outreach and financial education programs to reach minority borrowers.
In a statement, City National said it disagreed with the Justice Department’s allegations, but “nonetheless support the DOJ in its efforts to ensure equal access to credit for all consumers, regardless of race.”