FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                          CR
THURSDAY, JUNE 1, 1995                             (202) 616-2765
                                               TDD (202) 514-1888


     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Northern Trust Company, a lender in
the Chicago area, and three of its affiliate banks agreed today to
settle lending discrimination claims by compensating over 60
African Americans and Hispanics who were allegedly unfairly denied
home mortgage loans and by taking other steps, the Justice
Department announced.
     In a complaint, filed together with the agreement in U.S.
District Court in Chicago, the Justice Department asserted that in
1992 and 1993 the four banks engaged in a pattern of discrimination
on the basis of race and national origin in violation of the
federal Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.  The
Justice Department found no non-discriminatory explanation for
significant differences in the treatment of minority and white
     Today's agreement follows a Justice Department investigation
that began in December 1993.  The investigation, with which the
banks cooperated, revealed the banks' employees went to great
efforts to qualify white applicants for home mortgage loans but did
not make the same efforts for black and Hispanic applicants.     "Getting a loan can sometimes be like walking through a maze,"
said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Deval L. Patrick. 
"It is unfair for lenders to take white applicants by the hand and
walk them through the loan process, while leaving minority
applicants on their own and then denying their applications."
     "Once we began our investigation, the bank itself began to
look at its practices and to take corrective action," added
Patrick.  "We are pleased with Northern Trust's progress to date,
and with today's agreement we hope that Northern Trust will serve
as a model for others in the industry to emulate."
     The complaint alleged that in 1992 and 1993 the banks'
employees gave white applicants a chance to explain adverse items
on their credit reports, but failed to offer black and Hispanic
applicants the same opportunity.  It also claimed that bank
employees often helped white applicants document all possible
"offsetting" qualifications that could compensate for any
deficiencies in their applications, but rarely offered minority
applicants such assistance.
     According to the complaint, the banks also failed to seek
documentation of bonus, overtime, and commission income, as well as
secondary income such as rents, alimony, and child support payments
from black and Hispanic applicants, as they did for whites.
     As a result of the banks' discriminatory practices, black and
Hispanic applicants were rejected for loans at significantly higher
rates than whites.
     Under the agreement the banks will:
    pay $566,500 in damages to over 60 African American and
     Hispanic already-identified victims who were allegedly
     unfairly rejected for home mortgage loans;

    place at least $133,500 in a fund to compensate any additional
     individuals who may be identified following a further review
     of the banks' records;

    continue to implement a voluntarily-initiated program that
     ensures that all applicants have the chance to fully present
     their qualifications for a loan, and are treated in a non-discriminatory manner;

    send reports on their mortgage lending activities to the
     Justice Department for the next three years.

     The banks' voluntary corrective action implemented in 1994
already has caused a dramatic increase in acceptance rate of
African American and Hispanic applicants.
     "This agreement reflects the progress that can be made through
cooperative efforts to eliminate lending discrimination," added
Patrick.  "The Justice Department will continue to work with the
lending industry to achieve voluntary compliance."
     The court will retain jurisdiction over the case to ensure the
banks are complying with its provisions.
     "This office is committed to enforcing the civil rights laws
and ensuring that all citizens are treated fairly and equally when
they seek loans from area lending institutions," said Scott R.
Lassar, Acting U.S. Attorney in Chicago.  "The Consent Decree
demonstrates that we are willing to work with banks and other
financial institutions to guarantee that they comply with the
nation's anti-discrimination laws when a customer walks in the
     The defendants in the suit include the main branch of Northern
Trust, the Northern Trust Company, located in downtown Chicago, and
three affiliate banks in the Chicago suburbs: Northern Trust Bank
in Lake Forest, Northern Trust Bank in O'Hare, and Northern Trust
Bank in DuPage.
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