WASHINGTON - A Bronx, N.Y.-based community group has launched a two- pronged attack against Chase Manhattan Corp., filing complaints with banking regulators and with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The filings are part of a continuing campaign by Inner City Press/Community on the Move to protest every Chase application until the $114 billion institution expands its presence in the Bronx and upper Manhattan.
The Comptroller of the Currency already has rejected an earlier protest, giving Chase permission to merge its Connecticut and New York operations, but several of the group's complaints are still pending.
In its latest volley, the community group asked the Comptroller's office to reject on Community Reinvestment Act grounds Chase's bid to acquire U.S. Trust Corp. of New York's securities-processing and mutual fund-servicing businesses.
The group also urged the SEC to reject Chase's request to become a foreign custodian for the Russian stock market, saying the bank is not meeting its charter obligation to serve the convenience and needs of the community.
Chase spokeswoman Charlotte Gilbert said there is no merit to any of the protests.
"Inner City Press continues to misportray Chase's CRA and fair lending records," Ms. Gilbert said. "Our programs have been thoroughly reviewed by the regulators and their approval of our application to merger our Connecticut and New York banks reflects the strength of Chase's CRA and fair lending performances."
But, Inner City Press executive director Matthew Lee said he doesn't plan to leave Chase alone until the bank starts serving low- and moderate- income neighborhoods in his community.
"The area is changed," Mr. Lee said of the Bronx and upper Manhattan. "It is repopulated. Why don't you reopen branches here and do business? ... We don't expect them to accept every loan. But, be a bank."
Chase is not the group's first target. Inner City Press, using the CRA protest process, in eight months has received commitments from five major institutions to lend $70 million in the Bronx and upper Manhattan, and to bring two new branches and two new loan production offices to the area.