Magazine article American Banker

Marital Discrimination Charge

Magazine article American Banker

Marital Discrimination Charge

Article excerpt

A North Carolina bank discriminated against borrowers based on their marital status, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said.

Crescent State Bank in Cary committed "substantive violations" of fair-lending laws, including the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the FDIC said Friday. As a result, the agency gave the bank a rare "needs to improve" rating on its latest Community Reinvestment Act examination.

The FDIC said Crescent, a unit of the $751 million-asset Crescent Financial Corp., committed violations that "involved a pattern or practice of discrimination on the basis of marital status" and "are considered to be bank-wide."

Michael G. Carlton, the president and chief executive of the bank and the parent company, defended its lending practices and said it has taken steps to improve its fair-lending policies.

"Crescent has always had conservative lending practices," he said in an interview Friday. "We've never had any complaints, and we were not aware of this matter until it was brought to our attention."

The bank has not "had any chargeoffs or past-dues as a result of the borrower's marital status," Mr. Carlton said. He would not provide details about the nature of the alleged violations.

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act bars lenders from collecting certain information from prospective borrowers, including race and gender data and in some cases marriage information. The "needs to improve" rating was for a CRA exam completed in August 2006. For its previous CRA exam, in 2001, the bank received a "satisfactory" rating. …

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