WASHINGTON - Another former employee of Citigroup Inc. has given a sworn statement that its subprime lending unit engaged in predatory lending practices.
Steven Toomey said in an affidavit taken Sunday by the community group Inner City Press/Community on the Move that CitiFinancial pressed customers to refinance loans at higher rates - a practice known as flipping - after it acquired Associates First Capital Corp. last year.
"After Citigroup acquired the Associates, we loan officers began to be compensated, for the first time, to renew loans to existing borrowers - i.e. flipping," read the statement signed by Mr. Toomey, who until May 24 was a loan officer in CitiFinancial's branch in Charleston, S.C. The branch was part of Associates until Citigroup purchased the lender last November.
"On many of these refinances, points were assessed and the rate was raised. Also, we loan officers were instructed to only disclose to borrowers their prospective monthly payments, and not the level of points and fees that were being stacked into the loan," Mr. Toomey said.
Citigroup issued a statement that implied Mr. Toomey is a disgruntled employee: "Mr. Toomey, an Associates employee for just six months, only in the last few weeks raised issues related to branch sales practices when he concluded that the company would not pay him monies that he demanded to resolve an employment dispute."
The company said it maintains the "highest professional standards" but stopped short of denying the charges and said it is reviewing the matter.
The affidavit is the second in a month by a former CitiFinancial employee saying the company used deceptive lending practices. The previous one was by Gail Kubiniec, a former assistant manager of a CitiFinancial branch in Tonawanda, N.Y., who said that common practices at her branch included identifying vulnerable borrowers, adding insurance coverage to loans without their knowledge, and harassing and intimidating delinquent borrowers.
After that statement surfaced, a Citigroup spokeswoman said a review had found the "alleged practices are in no way characteristic of how CitiFinancial employees treat their customers or offer and sell products."
Officials of Inner City Press/ Community on the Move filed Mr. Toomey's affidavit with the Federal Reserve Board and New York and California banking regulators, which are considering Citigroup acquisition applications that the group has protested.