Trump’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency did not initially require banks to collect demographic lending data on the emergency Paycheck Protection Program. It was not until after an expert report showed up to 90% of entrepreneurs of color were being shut out of receiving funds that the OCC urged banks providing PPP loans to “prudently document their implementation and lending decisions” and to “track the PPP loans made to small business borrowers.”

Implementation of the PPP has denied needed relief to many small businesses and entrepreneurs of color who have been unable to secure these loans for their businesses. A recent study estimates that 95% of Black-owned businesses, 91% of Latino-owned businesses, 91% of Native Hawaiian or Pacific-Islander-owned businesses, and 75% of Asian-owned businesses are likely to be denied a loan by a traditional bank or credit union.

“As small businesses across America face the devastating financial consequences of the ongoing pandemic, it is critical that small business owners who have historically been left on the sidelines have equal access to the capital provided by the Paycheck Protection Program. Our request for records will help reveal the extent to which the Trump administration failed to make small businesses — particularly those owned by people of color and women — a priority in securing PPP funds.”

– Charisma Troiano, Democracy Forward Communications Director

The administration has a track record of flouting its legal obligations to facilitate enforcement of anti-discrimination laws that protect minority-owned small businesses from discrimination by financial institutions.

On May 11, 2020, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request along with the California Reinvestment Coalition to seek records that would help reveal the degree to which PPP loans have been inequitably distributed, including:

  • All records submitted by financial institutions to OCC regarding loans made under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program
  • All instructions, guidance, or direction from OCC to financial institutions regarding financial institutions’ data collection obligations regarding loans made under the PPP
  • All OCC communications regarding the degree to which national banks were originating PPP loans to business owners of color and businesses that are located in and/or serve low and moderate-income communities or communities of color

Release of the requested data is critical; the information could be used to assess lenders’ compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act, and it would help reveal the extent of the discrimination small business owners are facing.

Jeffrey Dubner

Deputy Legal Director

Litigating challenges to unlawful actions, abuses of power, and threats to democracy on behalf of those who are harmed.

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