Maxine Waters violated pledge to help the poor with Scandal Bank

September 10, 2010
OneUnited said it would partner with the city to offer the mortgages to first-time and current homeowners, and provide financial literacy training to residents. “As a child of an inner-city community I can tell you, it doesn’t get any better than this,’’ the bank’s president, Teri Williams, told the crowd that day.
But no loan program ever emerged — one in a long list of failures by the nation’s largest minority-owned bank, which is controlled by Williams and her husband, Kevin Cohee, the bank’s chairman.
seven other banks that partnered with the city to provide affordable mortgages have made more than 1,000 loans to residents since 2005. Those banks include community institutions like East Boston Savings Bank and Hyde Park Savings Bank, as well as giants like Bank of America and Citizens Bank.
Cohee said OneUnited has been in “research-and-development’’ mode since the financial crisis, when it lost $50 million it had invested in the mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were taken over by the government.
“We’ve really been focused on this issue of how to have a widespread, a nationwide impact on job creation,’’ Cohee said. “The stuff we’re coming out with is absolutely cutting edge, absolutely state of the art.’’
Yet OneUnited is shrinking by almost any measure. Its assets, once over $650 million, have fallen by more than $132 million. Bank analysts point to the institution’s declining deposits, and expenses that now exceed the income the bank earns on loans. They also note that the bank has set no new money aside this year for potential losses on millions of dollars in past-due customer loans.
“That’s a big red flag’’ when regulators examine the books, said Suzanne Moot, a banking analyst in Milton. “If I were a regulator, I’d be talking to them.’’
Cohee further alienated his supporters in Washington last month when police arrests came to light that dated back to 2007. One was a sexual assault allegation that was dropped; another was a drug charge, which was dropped after Cohee agreed to go to counseling. Cohee denies any wrongdoing.

The spin that the bank would help the poor acquire housing and jobs was just that: spin.  A few dollars trickled out to help some poor people — but not in Boston, Miami, or Los Angeles, where it opened offices. But large sums did go to a wealthy developers in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, executives rewarded themselves with fancy cars and high salaries. The president had run-ins with the law; a sexual assault allegation (dropped) and a drug charge that was dropped after he agreed to counseling.  The plight of the poor was a ruse to ransack.

Quiet a crew that Maxine Waters bent — actually broke — the rules to help reward with our money. She should be ashamed, instead of defiant. And Congressman Barney Frank logrolled for her — did favors to help her while attempting to keep her role hidden. He should be ashamed of himself, as well (let alone for  his role in creating the housing crisis by his drive to promote home ownership among those who could not afford it).