The NAACP, which contends that several major mortgage lenders forced African Americans into bad loans that have sparked an epidemic in foreclosures, filed a class-action suit Friday in a Los Angeles court.
Among the culprits, says the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights organization, are Wells Fargo and HSBC, which steered Blacks into sup-prime mortgages, even in cases when their credit qualifications – such parameters as credit scores, incomes and down payments – were better or identical to those of White borrowers.
African-American homebuyers have been nearly four times more likely to receive a sub-prime loan than White borrowers, and six times more likely to get a sub-prime rate when refinancing, NAACP co-lead counsel Austin Tighe told the Associated Press.
The lawsuit is "totally unfounded and reckless," argues Melissa Murray, vice president of corporate communications for Wells Fargo & Co., whose bank is receiving federal bailout funds. "We have never tolerated, and will never tolerate, discrimination in any way, shape or form in any of our business practices, products or services."
Officials at HSBC declined to discuss specifics of the case, saying it does not comment on litigation, AP reported.
"HSBC stands by its fair lending and consumer protection practices, and we are confident that we are treating our customers fairly and with integrity," said Neil Brazil, vice president for public affairs.
The NAACP also has lawsuits pending against a dozen other subprime lenders.