Comptroller Brad Lander is freezing city deposits at two major banks because they’re not woke enough for him.
Lander, the city’s chief financial officer, boasted in a press release that Mayor Eric Adams and city Finance Commissioner Preston Niblack joined him as members of the city’s Banking Commission Thursday in taking action against Capital One and KeyBank — alleging both lenders “outright refused to submit required policies” to weed out “discrimination.”
Following its first-ever public hearing, the commission also voted to prohibit three other banks from accepting city money because they, too, failed to supply anti-discrimination policies in writing: International Finance Bank, PNC Bank, and Wells Fargo, according to Lander.
“Unfortunately, despite several opportunities to do so, five banks failed to comply with the … commission’s designation process – leaving us to conclude that they are not taking meaningful actions to combat discrimination in their operations and are not responsible stewards of public dollars,” Lander said.
However, the Department of Finance on Friday issued a separate statement on behalf of the Adams administration , aiming to clear up some confusion over Lander’s remarks.
The agency said Capital One and KeyBank were “conditionally” designated as depository banks because they didn’t submit a “complete application,” but after one year can re-apply for full designation to begin accepting city deposits again. It also said both lenders submitted “very strong financial reports.”
“Despite reports suggesting otherwise, the Banking Commission’s vote will not have any impact on banking services with the city and will not negatively affect any deposits currently held with the city’s designated banks,” added the agency.
Capital One and KeyBank held $7.2 million and $10 million in city deposits, respectively, as of the end of April.
In February, the commission, through Lander’s office, announced banks doing city business must show proof they’re trying to halt discrimination in lending, customer service and employment.
Lander didn’t single out any of the flagged banks for specific wrongdoing.
Instead, he vaguely noted that the commission heard testimony from Muslims and other New Yorkers who alleged experiencing discriminatory practices while opening and closing accounts.
The commission did fully certify 26 other banks to receive city deposits.
The votes were the first cast by the commission since far-left Lander, a self-described socialist , and Adams, a centrist Democrat, joined after taking office in 2022.
Capital One in a statement said, “It prohibits discrimination and harassment against any applicant, intern, associate, vendor, contractor, customer, or client on the basis of protected characteristics.”
KeyBank said in a statement that it “does not discriminate in any of its operations.”
“We believe this is a misunderstanding and we look forward to clarifying this issue with the Banking Commission,” added the lender.