March 9, 2007 -- California's major banks are failing small and minority-owned businesses when it comes to access to loans and capital, according to the California Reinvestment Coalition, a San Francisco-based group representing 240 local non-profit organizations.

While Citibank, Wells Fargo, and other banks received low passing grades on the group's recent report card for state lenders, Bank of America and City National Bank were both given Fs, the report said.

Only U.S. Bank, the state's ninth largest lender, got a perfect grade, the report said.

The grades were based on an assessment of whether a bank's lending initiatives were responsive to the credit needs of small businesses in low-income neighborhoods.

Allen Fisher, the group's executive director, said the results highlight the institutional barriers faced by small-business owners in lower income communities.

"These barriers cut the heart out of the American ideal of equal opportunity," Fisher said in a statement.  He called on Congress and federal regulators to better scrutinize the state's major lenders.

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Published on: Mar 9, 2007