American Banker: Will OCC plan silence some critics of bank M&A?

American Banker, March 19, 2020: Will OCC Plan Silence Some Critics of Bank M&A?

Community reinvestment advocates are raising alarm about potential restrictions on their ability to formally protest bank mergers following a recent proposal by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Earlier this month, the OCC unveiled a sprawling, technical document proposing an array of steps to “eliminate unnecessary requirements” in bank licensing and other forms of business combinations.

Buried within the proposal are more specific standards for when the agency should consider “adverse comments” from groups that want to protest a merger on the grounds that one of the parties in a deal has not done enough lending under the Community Reinvestment Act.

“This is going to make it harder for community groups to engage in the process,” said Jesse Van Tol, CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. “These are substantial changes that are being presented as a technical update, with almost none of those changes being advertised. So yeah — it’s sort of a stealth maneuver.”

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