Magazine article American Banker

Activists Rip OCC on 1st Union-Chase Deal

Magazine article American Banker

Activists Rip OCC on 1st Union-Chase Deal

Article excerpt

A New York-based community group is asking the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to overturn part of an October decision giving First Union Corp. permission to acquire Chase Manhattan Corp.'s private banking deposits and loans.

The group, Inner City Press/Community on the Move, charged in a Dec. 4 letter that the banks improperly amended their application in order to include sale of the private banking business, which includes more than $100 million of deposits and $25 million of loans to residents of Central and South America.

"The OCC should have required them to do a new public notice or to reapply," said Matthew Lee, executive director of Inner City Press/Community on the Move. "They didn't do that."

Rather, the agency approved the amended application Oct. 14, giving First Union permission to buy eight Chase branches and the private banking business.

Mr. Lee said his group, which is waging a massive community reinvestment campaign against Chase, had no way to know that Chase wanted to sell the private banking business.

"That strikes us as profoundly unfair and not legal," Mr. Lee said. "I can't see how we cannot win on this."

OCC spokesman Dean DeBuck defended the agency, saying banks can amend applications without a new comment period as long as they do not "materially" change them.

Also, the public could comment on the transfer because Chase had to apply to move the private banking deposits from various affiliates to its Florida operation, Mr. DeBuck said.

Chase spokeswoman Charlotte Gilbert said the bank and the comptroller acted properly. …

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