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Federal judge rules Spitzer cannot probe national banks

[JURIST] A federal judge on Wednesday blocked New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer [official website] from investigating national banks' lending practices, which Spitzer believed to be charging minorities higher interest rates on home mortgage loans. US District Judge Sydney H. Stein ruled [PDF opinion; companion opinion] in favor of the Clearing House Association [organization website], an organization that represents federally chartered commercial banks and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency [official website], an arm of the US Treasury Department which oversees the actions of national banks. Both organizations filed suit against Spitzer for interfering with their supervisory powers in the matter. The judge relied on the Fair Housing Act [text], which is designed to prevent discrimination in housing matters. The judge noted in his ruling that the FHA uses a variety of federal banking regulators including the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to work with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the US attorney general to enforce its provisions, but that nowhere does the FHA give a state attorney general jurisdiction in federal banking regulation. Spitzer said he is planning to appeal the ruling. AP has more.

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