WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department is reviewing the branching activities of Banc One Corp.'s Cincinnati bank as part of an ongoing probe into fair-lending practices at financial institutions nationwide, two people with firsthand knowledge of the process said.

John Russell, the spokesman for the bank's holding company, flatly denied that the Justice Department is investigating the bank. "It absolutely isn't Banc One," Mr. Russell said. "I've checked everywhere. There's nothing .... It's not us."

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