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News from:
City Attorney Barbara J. Parker

Thursday, March 23, 2017

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Cities Can Sue Wells Fargo for Racially Discriminatory and Predatory Mortgage Lending Practices that Violate the Fair Housing Act 

Wells Fargo v. City of Miami, U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 15-1112

OAKLAND, CA – On Monday, May1, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the City of Miami can sue two of the nation’s largest banks for engaging in discriminatory mortgage lending practices against African American and Latino borrowers.

Miami sued Wells Fargo and Bank of America to recover damages caused by the banks’ practice of targeting African American and Latino borrowers for predatory and higher risk loans in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.

The City of Oakland sued Wells Fargo in September 2015 for the bank’s predatory and racially discriminatory lending practices that violate both the federal Fair Housing Act and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.

City Attorney Barbara Parker issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Miami case:

“This is a victory for Oakland, Miami and other cities across the country that have filed lawsuits against Wells Fargo and other big banks to stop these unconscionable and racially discriminatory mortgage lending practices and to recover damages our cities suffered as a result. 

In Oakland and across our country, Wells Fargo's discriminatory conduct devastated individuals, families and communities, increasing poverty and wiping out or drastically reducing wealth of communities of color while bankers prospered.

Evidence shows that Wells Fargo, our nation's largest mortgage lender and one of the most powerful companies in the world, systematically provided more expensive and higher risk loans to African American and Latino borrowers in Oakland and elsewhere, despite the fact that they qualified for the same more favorable loans that the bank regularly offered to white borrowers.

For example, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, in 2007 a typical African American borrower in Chicago seeking a $300,000 loan from Wells Fargo paid nearly $3,000 more in fees compared to a similarly qualified white applicant.

Wells Fargo knew when it issued predatory loans that many of them would result in foreclosure. The damage families in Oakland suffered is immeasurable. None of the responsible bankers have been held personally accountable to date and Wells Fargo and its executive management earned millions of dollars generated in part by issuing toxic loans to African Americans and Latinos.

Monday’s ruling means that Oakland can continue to pursue justice and proceed with this important case. Wells Fargo must cease these abominable practices and the bank must be held accountable for its despicable, callous and racially discriminatory actions.”

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