The DOJ press release is here. The emails are disturbing (see for yourself below) and are reminiscent of the Trident case. The case resulted in a consent order though, as is usual in such cases, the bank neither admitted nor denied the complaint’s substantive allegations. What makes this even more upsetting is that bank trade groups are suing the CFPB in an attempt to prevent the Bureau from using its UDAAP powers to block banks from engaging in discriminatory conduct–when this is going on. According to John Reosti’s story in the American Banker (behind paywall but available on Lexis), the bank’s CEO, Joe Landon said that “the majority” of the objectionable emails came from outside the bank. Reosti also reported that the bank stated “many of the quotes were taken from unsolicited communications forwarded or written by third parties, and others were taken out of context.”
Here’s an excerpt from the DOJ’s complaint, which discusses the emails:
75. In several instances, loan officers, managers, and executives exchanged emails that indicated racial and national origin animus. For example:
a. An ABOK executive forwarded an email to a group that included an ABOK Branch Manager entitled, “Proud to be White!” The email included racial slurs, including the “N word,” [Here the complaint included a footnote which read ” The circulated email included this racial slur in its entirety.”] and asserted that “ghettos” are “the most dangerous places to live.”
b. An ABOK mortgage loan officer referred to a moderate-income area within the Bank’s market area as the edge of the “ghetto.”
c. ABOK employees, including executives, shared an email on multiple occasions that attributed the alleged deterioration of Detroit to “minorities,” African Americans, and “legal and illegal immigrants.” After suggesting the city became more diverse, the email asserted that crimes became more violent, high school “flunk-out rates” went up, and that few people could speak English. The email also stated “Multiculturalism: what a perfect method to kill our language, culture, country and way of life,” and “IF YOU THINK MEXICANS AND MUSLIMS AND OTHER FORIEGNERS [sp] WILL EVENTUALLY FIT RIGHT IN THEN YOU ARE AS BIG A PART OF THE PROBLEM AS THEY ARE.”
d. An ABOK manager forwarded an email to an ABOK executive that associated Black culture with inner-city gang violence and economic hardships, attributed violent crime to Black people, and suggested that if Black people left America, the country’s poverty rate, prison population, number of welfare recipients, and number of gang members would all decrease while average SAT scores and average income would increase.