Tulsa bank agrees to $1.15M settlement over redlining
A Tulsa, Okla., bank accused of refusing to lend money to Black and Latino residents has reached a settlement with the Justice Department.
American Bank of Oklahoma agreed to invest $1.15 million to increase credit opportunities in majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in and around Tulsa, the Justice Department announced Monday.
“This agreement will help expand investment in Black communities and communities of color in Tulsa and increase opportunities for homeownership and financial stability,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke.
ABOK denied any wrongdoing, saying it only settled the claims to avoid a long legal battle.
The feds said between 2017 and 2021, ABOK flatly refused to provide mortgage loans in majority-Black and Hispanic communities. All of the bank’s branches were concentrated in majority-white neighborhoods, as it “reinforced and perpetuated segregated housing patterns,” the Justice Department said.
Investigators also found racist emails from bank employees and executives, according to the feds. In addition to the monetary commitments, the settlement requires the bank to launch a number of diversity and inclusion initiatives.
“American Bank of Oklahoma engaged in the illegal practice of redlining and failed to serve the diverse members of our Tulsa community as they attempted to purchase homes,” said U.S. Attorney Clinton Johnson.
Some of the neighborhoods previously cut off from ABOK loans were historically Black areas affected by the Tulsa race massacre of 1921. However, ABOK was founded decades later in 1998.
The Justice Department has launched a series of investigations into banks across the country that have been accused of redlining. The feds have previously announced significant settlements with Lakeland Bank in Newark and City National Bank in Los Angeles, among others.