Banks push back on OCC’s bid to ban lending bias
By Laura Alix
The banking industry is asking for more time to comment on a regulatory proposal that aims to prohibit banks from denying services to oil and gas companies and other firms in politically sensitive industries…Some doubted the proposed rule would stand up to a challenge — if it is ultimately finalized at all. Karen Petrou, a managing partner at Federal Financial Analytics, challenged the agency’s framing of fair access, pointing out that “fair” has historically meant nondiscrimination based on membership in a protected class. “This is a novel view of a much broader and more expansive concept of discrimination based on a category of lawful business,” she said. With comments due on Jan. 4, the OCC would have very little time to sift through comments and make a decision before President-elect Joe Biden, a Democrat, is inaugurated. Even if it is finalized, the incoming administration may be likely to suspend its enforcement or reverse it. “Just because something is in the rulebook doesn’t mean it’s on Mount Rushmore,” Petrou said.