Allegations of discrimination
The grievance outlined that Washington Trust had set the complete state of Rhode Island as its goal area and started an expansion by opening of more branches. US Attorney Zachary Cunha argued that when the bank established this goal, its market must have included the bulk Black and Hispanic neighborhoods within the state.
However, Clarke said that the bank never opened branches inside majority Black or Hispanic communities. The grievance also said that there have been nearly no mortgage officers working on the bank that spoke in Spanish and its website was also largely not translated in Spanish.
In 2011, Washington Trust was reported to have known about such discrimination issues from its internal compliance team in addition to outside consultants that it had hired to conduct risk assessments.
“Washington Trust took no meaningful motion in response to those reports indicating that it was underserving Black and Hispanic borrowers and majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, despite having knowledge of its underperformance and its redlining risk,” the grievance read.
Washington Trust stated in an unsigned written statement that it denied the allegations and only agreed to the settlement in an effort to avoid the expenses and the distraction that got here with the potential of litigation.