Mortgage bankers wary of life under the CRA umbrella should be watching the Federal Reserve Board, whose recent actions against Shawmut National Corp. seem to contradict previous rulings. The Fed's Nov. 15 rejection of Shawmut's application to acquire New Dartmouth Bank conflicts with the Comptroller of the Currency's reasons for giving satisfactory ratings to Shawmut's member banks in December 1991, and also contradict two other recent Fed rulings.

These rulings, when compared with the Fed's decision on the Hartford, Conn.-based bank's application. indicate that the Fed lacks a clear-cut policy for dealing with applications involving banks that hold passing Community Reinvestment Act ratings but are being investigated by the Justice Department in connection with fair lending law violations.

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