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Press Release

Justice Department Secures Agreement with American Bank of Oklahoma to Resolve Lending Discrimination Claims

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department announced a settlement agreement today to resolve allegations that American Bank of Oklahoma engaged in a pattern or practice of lending discrimination by redlining in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The affected area includes the historically Black neighborhoods that were the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. This resolution is part of the department’s nationwide Combating Redlining Initiative launched by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in October 2021.

Redlining is an illegal practice in which lenders avoid providing credit services to individuals living in communities of color because of the race, color or national origin of the residents in those communities. 

“Providing equal access to credit is essential in every community, but the painful history of Tulsa makes this agreement particularly poignant because the redlined areas include historically Black neighborhoods that have endured the legacy of racial violence and the continuing effects of segregation and discrimination,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This agreement will help expand investment in Black communities and communities of color in Tulsa and increase opportunities for homeownership and financial stability. Remedial provisions in the agreement will open up opportunities for building generational wealth while focusing on neighborhoods that bear the scars of the Tulsa Race Massacre. The Justice Department will continue to combat redlining and ensure equal access to credit for all Americans.”

“American Bank of Oklahoma engaged in the illegal practice of redlining and failed to serve the diverse members of our Tulsa community as they attempted to purchase homes,” said U.S. Attorney Clinton Johnson for the Northern District of Oklahoma. “These practices are often hard to identify and prosecute and I want to thank the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division for taking measures to correct these abhorrent business practices.”

The complaint filed in federal court today alleges that, from 2017 through at least 2021, American Bank of Oklahoma failed to provide mortgage lending services to majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in the Tulsa metropolitan area. Specifically, the department alleges that all of American Bank of Oklahoma’s branches and loan production offices were located in majority-white neighborhoods, that the bank designated a service area that excluded all majority-Black and Hispanic-census tracts in the metropolitan area and that the bank failed to appropriately monitor and address fair lending risk.

As a result, the bank’s loan officers did not serve the credit needs of Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in and around Tulsa, and the bank’s actions reinforced and perpetuated segregated housing patterns because of race, color, or national origin. The complaint also alleges that bank employees, including executives and loan officers, sent and received emails on their work email accounts containing racial slurs and racist content.

Under the proposed consent order, which is subject to court approval, American Bank of Oklahoma has agreed to invest over $1.15 million to increase credit opportunities in neighborhoods of color in the Tulsa metropolitan area. The bank will invest at least $950,000 in a loan subsidy fund for residents of majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in the Tulsa area; $100,000 for advertising, outreach and consumer education; and $100,000 for development of community partnerships to provide services that increase access to residential mortgage credit. The bank will also open a new community-oriented loan production office in the historically Black area of Tulsa; ensure at least two mortgage loan officers are dedicated to serving majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in and around Tulsa; host at least six consumer financial education seminars per year, with translation and interpretation services in Spanish; and will employ a full-time director of community lending, who will oversee the continued development of lending in neighborhoods of color in the Tulsa area.

The department opened its investigation into American Bank of Oklahoma’s lending practices after receiving a referral from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The bank cooperated with the department’s investigation and worked with the department to resolve these allegations.

In October 2021, the department launched its Combating Redlining Initiative as a coordinated enforcement effort to address this persistent form of discrimination against communities of color. Since the initiative was launched, the department has announced eight redlining cases and settlements and secured $89 million in relief for communities of color that have been victims of lending discrimination across the country.

More information about the department’s fair lending enforcement can be found at Individuals may report lending discrimination by calling the Justice Department’s housing discrimination tip line at 1-833-591-0291 or submitting a report online.


Updated October 6, 2023

Civil Rights
Fair Housing
Press Release Number: 23-927