In response to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) decision on Tuesday to fine Citi $25.9 million for “intentionally and illegally discriminating against credit card applicants the bank identified as Armenian American,” Rise Economy Chief Executive Officer Paulina Gonzalez-Brito released the following statement:
“We commend the CFPB for taking decisive action in response to its findings of discriminatory practices by Citibank against credit card applicants of Armenian descent, many of whom reside in or near Glendale, Calif. Citibank’s actions reveal a deeply troubling and unacceptable pattern of discrimination.
“Regrettably, this serves as a stark reminder that discrimination persists within our banking system. We are grateful the CFPB is diligently working to eradicate such behavior. As the largest statewide racial and economic justice coalition in the nation, we hope that other federal regulatory bodies will follow suit as it is clear that more robust oversight, investigation and enforcement of fair lending and fair housing anti-discrimination measures are needed. This is essential to guarantee that all residents have equal access to credit and deposit products in America.”
According to the CFPB, from 2015 to 2021, Citi was found to have engaged in discriminatory practices by singling out applicants for certain credit card products based on their suspected Armenian descent.
In addition to the CFPB’s decisions, Rise Economy has scrutinized other issues relating to Citibank.
In August, Rise Economy expressed concerns about the harmful lobbying and litigation practices of banking trade groups such as the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Bankers Association and the Consumer Bankers Association in a letter addressed to 40 bank CEOs, including Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser. Citibank’s response to the letter did not address the specific questions raised by Rise Economy, nor did it clarify Citibank’s position on these issues.
And, in 2014, Rise Economy, then the California Reinvestment Coalition, raised concerns about access and transparency problems with Citi after it settled with the Department of Justice and attorneys general over federal and state civil claims related to its conduct in the packaging, securitization, marketing, sale and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) prior to Jan. 1, 2009.