Washington D.C. – Watchdog group Accountable.US marked National Puppy Day by digging into the troubled anti-consumer pasts of executives at Utah-based Transportation Alliance Bank (a.k.a. TAB Bank), which has partnered with EasyPay Finance in a rent-a-bank scheme to make 189% interest loans available at pet stores – loans which help keep abusive puppy mills in business. A new report from Accountable.US, which is part of the ‘Stop the Debt Trap’ coalition campaign against predatory puppy loans, found TAB Bank’s executives previously held senior positions at financial institutions and firms with histories of allegations surrounding mortgage abuse and alleged discrimination against Black and Latino homebuyers. In addition, many of these executives are doing very well for themselves as their company exploits consumers and animals alike – owning homes with luxurious amenities, some of which are valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the median listing price in their towns.
It’s a perfect storm of exploitation, usury and general awfulness. A predatory lender is sidestepping state interest rate caps by laundering its triple-digit loans through TAB Bank -- loans offered directly at pet stores that often help keep the cruel puppy mill industry in business. One look at the well-heeled TAB Bank executives and their ties to companies accused of foreclosure abuse and alleged discrimination against homebuyers of color, and it's clearly a match made in hell with this predatory lender. How many more vulnerable borrowers need to be taken advantage of, how many more animals need to be abused before federal regulators put a leash on sick puppy loan schemes?”
Jeremy Funk, rescue dog owner and spokesman for Accountable.US
Several states as well as Washington, D.C. have enacted interest rate caps of 36% or lower for short-term loans. However, predatory lenders like EasyPay Finance got a free pass from the Trump administration to sidestep these state interest rate caps by laundering triple-digit interest loans through banks — a scheme known as “Rent-a-Bank.” It is another reason why Congress must pass a strong national interest rate cap covering all lenders.
Among the report’s key findings:
- TAB Bank’s CEO and President Curt Queyrouze was a senior executive for Hancock Holding Company—which was subject to a fair lending complaint that it didn’t make enough home loans for Black borrowers—and owns a 4,880 sq. ft. home with “several walk-in closets,” “sound system throughout,” “RV parking,” and “2nd kitchen,” that is valued at least $304,500 over the local median listing price.
- Chief Operating Officer Michael Palmer—who worked in compliance for Wells Fargo while it reached several settlements for its alleged mortgage abuses and discrimination against Black and Latino homebuyers—owns a 6,607 sq. ft. home valued at least $101,100 more than his town’s median home listing price.
- Chief Technology Officer Nilendu Saha—who was a Project Lead on Software Development for Ellie Mae while it was accused of violating antitrust laws when creating a software product—appears to own a home with a library, theater, sauna, and 400-bottle wine closet that is valued at $383,500 more than the local median home listing price.
- General Counsel Ben Kotter—who previously focused on “creditors’ rights” as a partner at a law firm that touts its experience defending industry clients against the CFPB—owns a “custom” home in the “best subdivision” in Syracuse, Utah that is valued at $24,100 more than the local median home listing price.