United States v. Washington Trust Company (D. R.I.)
On October 31, 2023, the court entered a consent order in United States v. Washington Trust Company (D.R.I.). The complaint, which was filed on September 27, 2023, alleged that Washington Trust violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Fair Housing Act by engaging in unlawful redlining in the State of Rhode Island. Specifically, the complaint alleged that despite expansion across the state of Rhode Island, Washington Trust has never opened a branch in a majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhood, relied on mortgage loan officers working out of only majority-white areas as the primary source for generating loan applications, and failed to train or incentivize its lending staff or conduct outreach, marketing and advertising of its mortgage services to compensate for its lack of branches and presence in majority-Black and Hispanic areas. The consent order requires the defendant(s) to invest at least $7 million in a loan subsidy fund to increase access to home mortgage, home improvement, home refinance and home equity loans and lines of credit for residents of majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Rhode Island; spend $1 million on community partnerships to provide services that increase residential mortgage credit access for residents of those neighborhoods; spend $1 million for advertising, outreach, consumer financial education and credit counseling focused on majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods; open two new branches in majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Rhode Island; and ensure at least two mortgage loan officers are dedicated to serving these neighborhoods; and employ a Director of Community Lending who will oversee the continued development of lending in communities of color. Washington Trust also agreed to complete a community credit needs assessment, to assess and report on its fair lending program; and to train staff on the bank’s obligations under the consent order.
Press Release - 9/27/2023