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Wells Fargo reacts to lawsuit claiming discrimination in lending practices

Wells Fargo
Erin Keever
/
WFAE
A Wells Fargo branch is seen in Charlotte in an undated photo.

Wells Fargo is responding to allegations in a lawsuit that the bank discriminated against Black lenders, calling the claims unfounded.

In a lawsuit filed in February, a Black homeowner in Georgia looking to refinance his house claims Wells Fargo tried to charge him a higher interest rate than his credit score called for. Two more borrowers joined that lawsuit.

Wells Fargo has a major corporate presence in Charlotte.

High-profile attorney Ben Crump joined an amended lawsuit in a federal court in San Francisco last week. Crump then tweeted that Wells Fargo practices are “killing Black homeowners' opportunities.”

A Bloomberg News investigation in March found Wells Fargo approved 47% of refinancing applications for Black homeowners in 2020 compared to 72% of white applicants.

Wells Fargo is a financial supporter of WFAE.

The bank said in a statement that it’s “deeply disturbed” by the allegations and called them “unfounded attacks.”

“In 2020, Wells Fargo was the largest bank lender for home mortgages to Black families and this is consistent with our performance over the last decade (2011 – 2020), in which the company helped as many Black families purchase homes as the next three largest bank lenders combined,” Wells Fargo said.

The bank said from 2019 to 2021 it has seen large increases in the number of refinancing loans for Black homeowners.

Wells Fargo also rolled out a program for Black and Latino lenders earlier this month that puts $60 million toward grants for 40,000 homeowners of color in eight markets to address gaps in homeownership, which is part of a $210 million program to help homeowners of color.

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Catherine Welch is Assistant News Director at WFAE. She has led newsrooms at KUNC in Greely, CO, Rhode Island Public Radio in Providence, RI and WHQR in Wilmington, NC.