News Release 2020-24 | March 3, 2020

Comptroller of the Currency Marks the 155th Anniversary of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company

WASHINGTON—Comptroller of the Currency Joseph M. Otting today joined Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin and other federal officials to commemorate the 155th anniversary of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company’s charter.

The Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company, commonly referred to as the Freedman’s Bank, was created to provide economic opportunity for newly emancipated Americans. To mark its anniversary, the U.S. Department of the Treasury hosted a forum to honor the historical significance of the Freedman’s Bank; to engage in a dialogue that informs and highlights the federal government’s programs and policies related to minority depository institutions; and to promote opportunities that support economic development for all American communities.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) played an important part of the Freedman’s Bank history by working to save the bank at Congress’ request, even though the OCC was not the bank’s supervisor. Comptrollers also fought for decades to return losses to depositors following the bank’s closure in June 1874 that left 61,144 depositors with losses of nearly $3 million.

“The OCC remains committed to supporting Minority Depository Institutions and diversity today,” Comptroller Otting said. “Encouraging banks to do more to serve their communities and promoting economic opportunity are two of the primary reasons we are seeking to strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act regulations that have resulted in trillions in loans and investment since the law was enacted in 1977. CRA has been a tremendous tool, but we can do so much more.”

The OCC supports diversity and inclusion at its agency and throughout the federal banking system through a number of programs. Internally, the OCC offers paid internships to minority college and high school students to promote their careers and financial empowerment. The agency also maintains a Minority Depository Institution Advisory Committee to advise the agency on issues and opportunities facing minority depository institutions and hosts collaboration roundtables around the country that help connect minority depository institutions with opportunities and resources.

In addition to the Comptroller and the Treasury Secretary, today’s forum also included officials from the National Credit Union Administration, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

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