New York AG sues regional bank over alleged discrimination

Bryan Cohen Sep. 3, 2014, 1:29pm

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a lawsuit on Tuesday against a regional bank that allegedly denied access to mortgage loans to predominantly African-American neighborhoods because of their racial composition.

Evans Bank NA and Evans Bancorp Inc. allegedly systematically denied its mortgages and services to African-Americans in the Buffalo metro area in a process known as "redlining." Evans allegedly redlined the predominantly African-American neighborhoods by intentionally excluding the neighborhoods from its lending area; refusing to solicit customers, market mortgages or provide banking facilities in the neighborhoods; and developing mortgage products that were unavailable to the neighborhoods.

“Redlining is illegal, discriminatory, and must be made a thing of the past, once and for all,” Schneiderman said. “It is crucial that all New Yorkers, regardless of the color of their skin or the racial composition of their neighborhood, be afforded an equal opportunity to obtain credit. This is especially true as families continue to recover from the mortgage crisis--and as we work to achieve a fairer, and more just, New York state. My office will continue to do all it can to restore the health of our economy and ensure that all New Yorkers are treated equally, regardless of race or ethnicity.”

Schneiderman's lawsuit alleges that of the 1,114 Buffalo metro area residential mortgage applications Evans received between 2009 and 2012, only four of them were reported as coming from African-American applicants.

Schneiderman's lawsuit alleges Evans violated the Fair Housing Act, the New York State Human Rights Law and the Code of the City of Buffalo. The suit seeks restitution, civil penalties and attorney fees.

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