‘Are you paying attention?’ NYC officials freeze accounts when Big Apple banks fail to meet DEI requirement

Concerns over so-called “Environmental, Social, and corporate Governance” (ESG) measures are nothing but conspiracy theories, the media told us. Everything is fine, you bigots.

Until it isn’t.

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, Mayor Eric Adams, and Department of Finance Commissioner Preston Niblack just voted on Thursday to limit account deposits at Capital One and KeyBank because the institutions failed to submit required anti-discrimination plans.

“Following the first-ever public hearing held by the New York City Banking Commission today, all three members voted to limit deposits at Capital One and KeyBank after the banks failed to submit required plans demonstrating their efforts to root out discrimination,” Lander’s office announced in a statement. “New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, one of three members of the Commission, also voted against designating three other banks to hold public funds: International Finance Bank, PNC Bank, and Wells Fargo.”

The offending banks are clearly not taking “discrimination” seriously, Lander stated, which obviously means they are “not responsible stewards of public dollars.”

“Banks seeking to do business with New York City must demonstrate that they will be responsible managers of public funds and responsible actors in our communities,” Lander explained. “Unfortunately, despite several opportunities to do so, five banks failed to comply with the New York City Banking Commission’s designation process – leaving us to conclude that they are not taking meaningful actions to combat discrimination in their operations and are not responsible stewards of public dollars.”

It’s a remarkable statement.

Capital One practically oozes wokeness.

According to its website, “diversity, inclusion and belonging (DIB) are at the core of our culture.”

“We’re deeply committed to growing the diversity of our talent and building a culture of belonging where everyone can thrive,” the bank promises. “We strive to leverage our expertise and resources to build stronger, more inclusive teams and communities.”

And KeyBank says, “We’re committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in all we do.”

It would appear that the financial institutions need to virtue signal harder.

“Under the Charter and the Rules of the NYC Banking Commission, to comply with designation requirements a bank must file certificates concerning its policies of non-discrimination in hiring, promotion, and delivery of banking services, and for bank closings,” Lander’s office said. “In February, the Commission announced banks must submit to demonstrate a meaningful commitment to combat discrimination in employment, services, and lending.”

“Capital One, which held $7.2 million in City deposits at the end of April across 108 accounts,” the statement reveals, “and KeyBank, which held $10 million in City deposits at the end of April across three accounts, outright refused to submit required policies.”

In response, “Representatives for Mayor Adams and Department of Finance Commissioner Preston Niblack joined the Comptroller in voting to freeze new deposits in Capital One and KeyBank for up to two years.”

“Comptroller Lander also voted against designating three banks that do not currently hold any City deposits, International Finance Bank, PNC Bank, and Wells Fargo, after they failed to demonstrate they were taking action to prevent discrimination in branch openings and closings, lending decisions, hiring, and other operations,” the statement noted.

Wells Fargo fell out of favor with the city years ago.

To be clear, it wasn’t customer deposits that were frozen.

The vote froze the deposits from New York City agencies.

“Twenty-six banks were certified to receive deposits from New York City agencies for the next two years, 23 unanimously,” according to the statement. “Capital One and KeyBank will be able to service existing contracts for one year.”

It was the concerns of everyday New Yorkers that gave Deputy Comptroller for Policy Annie Levers “pause.”

“The perspectives we heard today from New Yorkers who experienced discrimination in the process of opening or closing accounts, and frontline bank staff who faced illegal and abusive practices, should give all of us pause,” she said. “We heard from many residents concerned that taxpayer dollars are going to banks that provide financing for predatory lending, fossil fuel extraction, and gun manufacturing – and support for the idea of a public bank that would instead put those dollars to work for our communities.”

“The Banking Commission can and should assume a stronger role in assuring that the city only conducts business with banks who demonstrate their commitment to community reinvestment and fair credit practices,” she added.

New York City is putting an agenda ahead of “credit worthiness,” stockbroker and financial commentator, Peter Schiff, wrote on Twitter.

“Since banks try to maximize their profits, they only discriminate based on competence and credit worthiness,” he wrote. “What N.Y.C wants is for banks to hire and make loans to minority applicants, even if they are less qualified and more likely to default.”


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