NEW YORK - Lehman Brothers Inc. fended off a protest Thursday by members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now by agreeing to meet with the activist group to discuss concerns about predatory lending.
Officials at the investment bank offered the olive branch after Acorn members hit Lehman offices in several states in a day of action designed to culminate at 3 World Financial Center in Manhattan and in several cities on the West Coast.
After an event in Miami earlier in the day, however, Lehman officials contacted the group to set up the meeting and avoid further protesting at its offices, according to Acorn. Lehman said it had offered to meet several weeks ago, and reiterated the offer Thursday.
Acorn members said they want Lehman and other investment banks to sign a code of ethics, pledging to adhere to "best practices" in the mortgage lending business. Though the banks are not lenders, the group argues that they provide capital and financial support to abusive lenders by buying and securitizing their loans.
"They have to look at the terms of the loans they are funding and say they won't buy or securitize loans with unconscionable terms," said Bertha Lewis, executive director Acorn in New York. "These secondary market players can see what kind of loans these are. They must refuse to buy loans from predatory lenders."