State And Regional

Park National Bank to pay $9 million to address lending discrimination allegations

COLUMBUS — The Justice Department has reached an agreement to resolve allegations of lending discrimination against Park National Bank.

Park National, which is headquartered in Newark, Ohio, has been accused of engaged in a “pattern or practice of lending discrimination by ‘redlining’ in the Columbus area, according to a Justice Department spokesperson.

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From at least 2015 to 2021, Park National was accused of failing provide mortgage lending services by redlining majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in the Columbus, according to the complaint filed in federal court. Lenders were allegedly concentrated on majority-white neighborhoods and failed to take “any meaningful measures to compensate for its lack of physical presence” in communities of color.

As part of the agreement, the Justice Department secured $9 million from Park National to address the resolve the allegations.

‘Let today’s settlement send a very clear message to banks: we will not tolerate discriminatory lending practices and we will hold you accountable,” U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker, of the Southern District of Ohio, said.

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A part of a consent order filed in federal court, Park National has agreed to do the following:

  • Invest at least $7.75 million in a loan subsidy fund to increase access to credit for home mortgage, improvement and refinance loans, as well as home equity loans and lines of credit, in majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in the Columbus area; $750,000 in outreach, advertising, consumer financial education and credit counseling initiatives; and $500,000 in developing community partnerships to provide services to residents of majority-Black and Hispanic areas that expand access to residential mortgage credit;
  • Open one new branch and one new mortgage loan production office in majority Black-and Hispanic neighborhoods in the Columbus area; ensure that a minimum of four mortgage lenders, at least one of whom is Spanish-speaking, are assigned to serve these neighborhoods; and maintain the full-time position of Director of Community Home Lending and Development, who is responsible for overseeing lending in majority-Black and Hispanic areas; and
  • Conduct a Community Credit Needs Assessment, a research-based market study, to help identify the needs for financial services in majority-Black and Hispanic census tracts in the Columbus area.
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