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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Eagle Bank and Trust Company to Resolve Allegations of Lending Discrimination in St. Louis

The Justice Department filed a consent order today to resolve allegations that Eagle Bank and Trust Company (Eagle Bank) engaged in a pattern or practice of “redlining” predominantly African-American neighborhoods in and around St. Louis.  “Redlining” is the discriminatory practice by banks or other financial institutions to deny or avoid providing credit services to a consumer because of the racial demographics of the neighborhood in which the consumer lives.  This is the second redlining settlement that the department has announced in the past week.

As a result of the settlement, Eagle Bank will open two new locations to serve the residents of African American neighborhoods in northern St. Louis.  The bank will also invest at least $975,000 to provide banking and borrowing opportunities to residents and businesses in those areas.  The settlement, which is subject to court approval, was filed in conjunction with the department’s complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.  The complaint alleges violations of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), which prohibit financial institutions from discriminating on the basis of race and color in their mortgage lending practices.

“The Department of Justice is committed to holding banks accountable for their role in continuing historic trends of residential segregation,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division.  “The practice of redlining violates our laws and harms our communities.  We commend Eagle Bank for becoming part of the positive change that must come to the African American neighborhoods in St. Louis.  The community partnerships and lending programs that are part of our settlement will bring much-needed investment to communities in northern St. Louis.”

Under the settlement, Eagle Bank will invest $800,000 in a special financing program to increase the amount of credit the bank extends to majority African American areas in the Missouri portion of the St. Louis metropolitan area, spend $75,000 for consumer education and credit repair programs, and spend $100,000 for outreach to potential customers and promotion of their products and services.  Eagle Bank will also open two locations to serve predominantly African American areas within the Missouri portion of the St. Louis metropolitan area, and will conduct fair lending training for its employees.  The agreement prohibits Eagle Bank from discriminating on the basis of race or color in any aspect of a residential real estate-related or credit transaction.

The lawsuit originated from information gathered by the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunities Council and provided to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).  The FDIC conducted an investigation and referred this matter to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

The department’s enforcement of fair lending laws and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section.  Since 2010, the Civil Rights Division has provided approximately $1.3 billion in monetary relief for individual borrowers and impacted communities through its enforcement of the Fair Housing Act, ECOA and the SCRA.  The Attorney General’s annual reports to Congress on ECOA enforcement highlight the department’s accomplishments in fair lending and are available at www.justice.gov/crt/publications/.

The Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Missouri and the FDIC are members of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources.  The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.  For more information on the task force, visit www.StopFraud.gov.    

A copy of the complaint, as well as additional information about the department’s fair lending enforcement, can be obtained on the department’s website at http://www.justice.gov/fairhousing.

Updated September 29, 2015