M&T Bank Corp., recipient of the highest Community Reinvestment Act compliance rating, has resolved a lawsuit filed by the Fair Housing Justice Center by paying $485,000 and changing certain of its banking practices, according a news release issued by the New York-based justice center.
The Fair Housing Justice Center and nine African-American, Hispanic, South Asian and white testers sued M&T Bank Corp., which is based in Buffalo, New York, in February.
The complaint alleged that M&T Bank adopted neighborhood racial criteria for one of its residential loan products and that loan officers had discriminated against FHJC testers. The lawsuit was based on after two-years of testing conducted FHJC. The testers posed as prospective home buyers.
The testers asked M&T loan officers to help them determine how much they could afford to purchase before beginning their search and prior to working with a real estate professional. In all cases, non-white testers were assigned more income, greater assets, fewer debts, and better credit scores than their white counterparts, FHJC reported.
As a result of the settlement, M&T will adopt a bank-wide policy prohibiting steering in addition to posting a revised fair housing lending policy on its website.
M&T issued the following statement: “M&T Bank is deeply committed to fair housing and fair lending, and has received the highest possible rating from regulators in Community Reinvestment Act compliance since 1989.”
The three-year agreement also covers attorneys’ fees.