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A bank supervised by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) appealed to the Ombudsman the supervisory office's (SO) determination that the OCC has information suggesting that the bank engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, or sex in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FH Act). Under Executive Order 12892,1 the OCC is required to notify the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) of the potential violation.
The appeal disagrees with the OCC's decision to make a referral to the DOJ and HUD. The appeal contends there is no evidence suggesting the bank engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination.
The Ombudsman conducted a comprehensive review using Executive Order 12892, "Leadership and Coordination of Fair Housing in Federal Programs: Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing," January 17, 1994, and "Identifying Lender Practices that May Form the Basis of a Pattern or Practice Referral to the Department of Justice," 1996.
The Ombudsman determined that, at this juncture, the OCC is only required to have information suggesting a pattern or practice of FH Act violations pursuant to Executive Order 12892 and the OCC is not required to meet the evidentiary standards that would be applicable in a court of law. Further, the DOJ would conduct its own investigation, as such, it directs the regulatory agencies that they need not have overwhelming proof of an extensive pattern or practice of discrimination before making a referral.
The Ombudsman concurred with the SO's decision that pursuant to Executive Order 12892, the OCC has information suggesting the bank engaged in a possible pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of the FH Act and its implementing regulation, requiring notification to the HUD and DOJ.
1 Executive Order 12892 states that the OCC shall notify HUD when it has facts or information suggesting a violation of the FH Act. When such information indicates a possible pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of the FH Act, the OCC shall forward the information to the DOJ.