The Bank Slate


OceanFirst receives “needs to improve” CRA rating

OceanFirst Financial in Red Bank, N.J., received a “needs to improve” Community Reinvestment Act rating from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

The $13.5 billion-asset company’s rating reflects “evidence of discriminatory or other illegal credit practices,” the agency said in a report. While the rating was disclosed last week, the OCC’s public documents are dated Nov. 1, 2021.

OceanFirst previously had a “satisfactory” rating.

The OCC alleged that OceanFirst “engaged in a pattern or practice of unlawful discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act and [other] regulations by failing to provide equal access to credit to borrowers seeking mortgages secured by properties in majority non-White or Hispanic census tracts.”

Qualified investments and community development services offered by OceanFirst in Camden, N.J., were “not effective and responsive in helping … address community needs,” the OCC determined.

The agency said it “will consider any information that [OceanFirst] engaged in discriminatory or other illegal credit practices, identified by or provided to the OCC before the end of the institution’s next performance evaluation … even if the information concerns activities that occurred during the evaluation period addressed in this performance evaluation.”

OceanFirst attempted last year to buy Partners Bancorp in Salisbury, Md., but had to terminate the acquisition when it was unable to get regulatory approval. Partners subsequently agreed to sell to Linkbancorp.

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