New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced the city government would not open any new accounts with Wells Fargo Bank over its discriminatory lending practices and numerous racial discrimination lawsuits.
Wells Fargo has faced racial discrimination lawsuits from employees and customers, including Black and Hispanic homeowners. Additionally, a Bloomberg News investigation found the bank approved Black homeowners seeking to refinance mortgages during the pandemic at a much lower rate than White homeowners.
“In light of this persisting track record of discrimination, New York City will not be opening any new depository accounts with Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. as we continue to investigate these troubling findings,” Adams and City Comptroller Brad Lander wrote in a joint statement.
In the joint letter to Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf, Adams and Lander cited the bank’s “checkered history” of mortgage business going back to the 2008 housing crisis.
The announcement comes less than a month after Adams was seen at a Wells Fargo promotional event for a credit card targeted at renters with Pennsylvania Senate Candidate Mehmet Oz and actress and model Cara Delevingne.
Bloomberg’s investigation showed the bank approved 47% of Black homeowners’ completed applications for refinancing their homes during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, Wells Fargo approved 72% of applications completed by White homeowners.
Adams isn’t the only politician targeting the bank. According to CBS News, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are demanding answers on Wells Fargo’s discriminatory mortgage-refinancing practices toward Black homeowners.
The bank, which has made efforts to appeal to Black Americans by giving millions to help support small Black businesses, investing in Black banks, and hiring actress Regina King for promotional spots, denied the allegations.
“In 2020, Wells Fargo was the largest bank lender for home mortgages to Black families. This is consistent with the company’s performance over the last decade (2011 – 2020), in which it helped as many Black families purchase homes as the next three largest bank lenders combined. Any suggestion that our home lending practices are discriminatory is meritless.”