Washington Trust Announces Settlement with U.S. Department of Justice
September 27, 2023
WESTERLY, R.I. - The Washington Trust Company ("Washington Trust" or "the Bank"), the wholly owned subsidiary of Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. (Nasdaq: WASH), today announced that it has entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") that resolves alleged violations of fair lending laws in Rhode Island from 2016 to 2021. The settlement does not include any civil monetary penalties.
Washington Trust vehemently denies the allegations and entered into this agreement solely to avoid the expense and distraction of potential litigation, and to allow the Bank to focus fully on serving the needs of its customers and communities.
"We believe we have been fully compliant with the letter and spirit of fair lending laws, and the agreement will further strengthen our focus on an area that has always been important to us," stated Edward O. "Ned" Handy III, Washington Trust Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Rhode Island has been home to Washington Trust for 223 years and our neighbors count on us to provide affordable loan opportunities no matter where they live."
"We care about all of our communities across Rhode Island, and we demonstrate our commitment through a number of proactive state-wide and corporate initiatives," added Handy. "For example, our Washington Trust RI Community Lending Program offers a variety of creative affordable loan opportunities, and our financial literacy and educational programs help potential borrowers prepare for home ownership. In addition, our dedicated team includes multi-lingual and minority community outreach and loan officers. We believe it is as a result of our proactive community efforts that we have steadily increased our lending in Majority-Minority Census Tracts as we've expanded our branch network."
Under the agreement, Washington Trust will provide $7 million in mortgage loan subsidies over a five-year period for mortgage, home improvement, or refinance loans, in specific census tracts in RI. Washington Trust will also commit $2 million for focused community outreach and marketing efforts. Over the past five years, Washington Trust has invested significantly in mortgage loan subsidies, community outreach, and marketing in Majority-Minority Census Tracts, and will continue these efforts to make positive impact in these communities.
"As the oldest community bank in the nation, we were founded to provide people with a trustworthy and local financial partner, and that mission continues to guide us today. We deliver a consistently superior banking experience to each and every member of the community, and that contributes directly to our solid financial foundation and the steady performance that we have achieved for more than two centuries. We look forward to serving our community long into the future," concluded Handy.