Spitzer Mortgage Probe Looks at US Unit of HSBC
Byline: JAKE LLOYD-SMITH
CRUSADING New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has requested information from HSBC's American arm, Household International, as part of a wider probe into mortgage lending.
It is Spitzer's first foray into retail lending practices and comes after a string of successful investigations by his office into the mutual fund industry, insurance and investment banking.
At issue in his latest salvo are lending practices for home loans, particularly whether the rates offered to minority, or poorer, customers, are excessive.
A spokesman for HSBC confirmed today that the bank was cooperating with Spitzer's request.
HSBC bought Household Internationalfor $14 billion ([pounds sterling]9 billion at the time) in 2002, greatly expanding its reach in the US. Its business includes home loan lending, including to poorer customers.
As many as 10 companies could have been hit by requests for information.
Spitzer's action follows greater mandatory disclosure by banks in the US about their mortgage businesses. The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act required them to issue information on the race and gender of those applying for loans, and whether they were accepted, by 31 March.
Banks also had to disclose whether loan holders were paying interest rates of more than three percentage points above the US Treasury rate, the lending market benchmark. …