If you need a quick guide about why this merger, check this out:
OneWest Bank: IndyMac Bank failed in 2008, and was the 3rd largest bank failure ever, with the FDIC calculating the total cost at an estimated $13 billion to the FDIC's Deposit Insurance Fund. A group of wealthy investors purchased IndyMac in 2009, and renamed it OneWest Bank. As part of the purchase, the FDIC agreed to a controversial shared loss agreement with the owners of OneWest Bank in which, the FDIC begins "sharing" in the cost of bad loans as OneWest Bank foreclosed on families. The FDIC also provided a shared loss agreement to OneWest Bank when it purchased the failed La Jolla Bank in 2010.
CIT Group: Taxpayers "loaned" CIT Group $2.3 billion under the TARP program in 2008. At the time, government officials justified the bailout by noting that CIT Group was an important source of capital for small businesses. However, a year later, CNN noted that CIT Group had only originated 142 SBA small business loans in 2009, as compared to 1,203 loans in 2008. CIT Group later filed bankruptcy, meaning the $2.3 billion it owed to US taxpayers was magically erased---AND---- CIT plans to use this same bankruptcy to lower its tax bill, post merger.
A few of the issues are highlighted briefly below. For additional detail, please read CRC's 8 in-depth letters to the regulators below.
Foreclosure Record: Under the shared loss agreement with the FDIC, OneWest bank was supposed to try and modify mortgages where possible, using government mortgage modification programs. However, OneWest has foreclosed on over 36,000 Californians during the past six years and was rated as one of the most challenging servicers to work with by California housing counselors.
A counselor commented in CRC's 2012 survey: “Indymac has the worst performance in terms of foreclosure prevention. Very difficult to obtain any assistance. We had a client that was a victim of dual tracking and had their home foreclosed on.” For more information about OneWest's spotty foreclosure and mortgage servicing record, see: Community Groups Question OneWest’s Foreclosure Record
Lack of Community Benefit: Community advocates are concerned about the Community Reinvestment Act records of both CIT Group and OneWest Bank. According to the limited data provided by the bank, it appears that OneWest bank is ranked near the bottom for its reinvestment activities as compared to its peer banks. In addition:
Corporate welfare: In addition to CIT Group's $2.3 billion TARP money that it never repaid to taxpayers, the FDIC is also providing an ongoing subsidy to OneWest Bank. In response to a FOIA request, the FDIC disclosed that it has already paid out $1,028,404,397 to OneWest bank under controversial shared loss agreements, and that it expects to pay out an additional $1.4 billion to the bank before 2019 ($2.4 billion total!). Moreover, if this merger is approved, the new bank would utilize the Net Operating Loss from CIT Group's 2009 bankruptcy to further reduce the taxes it pays. For more information, read CRC's fact sheet about the shared loss agreements.
1. October 10, 2014 letter from CRC to regulators
2. October 22, 2014 letter from CRC to regulators
3. November 25, 2014 letter from CRC to regulators
4. January 5, 2015 letter from CRC to regulators
5. February 24, 2015 letter from CRC to regulators
6. April 2, 2015 letter from CRC to regulators
7. May 6, 2015 letter from CRC to regulators
8. June 16, 2015 letter from CRC to regulators, calling for a fair housing and fair lending investigation based on analysis finding that 68% of OneWest foreclosures have happened in zip codes where the non-white population is 50% or greater; concerning trends of low lending to Asian and African American borrowers by OneWest Bank; low branch presence by OneWest bank; and foreclosures on non-borrowing, widowed spouses (who are more often women and seniors) by OneWest's subsidiary, Financial Freedom (reverse mortgage servicer).
Media about OneWest and CIT Group: