NAACP sues major lenders

The lawsuit alleges that HSBC and Wells Fargo gave subprime rates to African-Americans who qualified for better rates.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)

In the past six months, how often have you looked at your 401(k) and other investment balances?
  • Every day
  • Once a week
  • Every month or so
  • I can't bear to look

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The NAACP filed lawsuits Friday against two of the nation's largest mortgage lenders -- HSBC and Wells Fargo -- alleging "systematic, institutionalized racism" in their sub-prime lending.

"We have targeted these banks because we have gone through what we can get our hands on, and it seems like there's a real problem here," NAACP CEO Benjamin Jealous told CNN.

He added that the group wants "transparency. We want to see the books. We are not seeking damages, we just want them to fix the problem."

Both companies denied the allegations.

HSBC (HBC) spokeswoman Kate Durham said the company does not comment on litigation, but she added, "We stand by our lending practices."

Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) spokeswoman Melissa Murray issued a statement saying, "The NAACP's allegations are totally unfounded and reckless. We have never tolerated, and will never tolerate, discrimination in any way, shape or form in any of our business practices, products, or services."

She went on to say that the company has been "working with the NAACP for the past two years to develop a partnership that would benefit the NAACP, its constituents, and our communities, so we are dismayed that the NAACP has chosen to abandon that constructive dialogue in order to pursue this litigation."

Under subprime lending, people who don't qualify for lower interest rates can borrow money at higher rates. The NAACP lawsuits argue that the companies gave subprime rates to African-Americans who qualified for better rates, and gave better rates to white customers with similar credit histories.

The lawsuits, filed in U.S. District Court in central California, note several studies showing African-Americans have been disproportionately affected by subprime lending.

"These statistical disparities are not mere happenstance, but instead result from the systematic and predatory targeting of African-Americans, as well as facially neutral lending policies and practices that have a disparate adverse impact on African-Americans," the lawsuits say.

The NAACP previously launched similar suits against numerous other lenders. In its statement Friday, the nation's oldest civil-rights group said, "One lender has already entered into a preliminary settlement agreement with the NAACP, and a number of other lenders are engaged in similar discussions." To top of page

Features
They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
More Galleries
Some Converse copycats cost big bucks A few bargain brands got swept up in Chuck Taylor's net, but others cost a pretty penny. More
Urban infrastructure gets a second life Railroad beds become parks, power plants become aquariums and slaughterhouses are now art centers as an industrial past turns people-centric. More
Boomtown moms From working mothers raising their kids in RVs to stay-at-home moms who spend their days organizing events for the Oil Wives club, meet the moms of North Dakota's oil boom. More
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.