Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Bank Rejects Black Owner's $2 Million Payment

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Nationwide -- After more than 10 years of reliable mortgage payments, Anne Kihagi, an African American landlord in San Francisco, says she is under attack by Umpqua Bank for allegedly missing a property tax payment and failing to promptly provide annual financial information. Any commercial lender would laugh at this assault, as most borrowers turn in financials much later than the deadline (two months after year's end) - which makes sense considering most small business owners file taxes late.

But when did a slight (if warranted) delay in paperwork immediately lead to the demand that your loan must be fully paid off? This kind of dramatic trajectory is incredibly atypical, hence why these types of issues are called "Optional Default." Only a bank with an ulterior motive would use this strategy - which is exactly the case with Umpqua.

After months of going back and forth - and even refusing to provide a payoff demand that Ms. Kihagi needed in order to pay the bank - she lost lenders who got tired of playing Umpqua's time games.

Each time Ms. Kihagi refused to play by their distorted rules, she says that Umpqua Bank would turn the screw again.

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Finally, Ms. Kihagi says she received a payoff demand on March 14, 2019, disclosing the amounts due and that she had to call Umpqua for an updated balance. When they learned she had lined up another lender and that this time she was closing, the Bank stopped returning her emails and went completely dark.

This forced Ms. Kihagi to pay the demanded amount plus daily interest. The funds - close to $2 million - were wired on April 5, 2019.

Three days later, Umpqua returned the money as rejected, stating they had been shorted a small amount and that they would not accept payment unless Ms. Kihagi signed the extorting deal she rejected. As if this torture were not enough, less than a week after that payment, Umpqua asked the Court to allow a new owner - a white gentleman - to buy Ms. Kihagi's building out from under her.

Umpqua Bank had refused to accept Ms. Kihagi's money, was hoping to sell it at $1.5mm below the true value - and yes - the San Francisco judges were allowing all this to proceed.
She says Umpqua Bank has rebuked and refused her repeatedly when she has tried to hold her own, and now they are magically offering a payoff demand to a new buyer and asking a court to force Ms. Kihagi to sell her building? Any of this sounding fishy?

This is not the first time Ms. Kihagi has faced contemptuous discrimination in her work, and certainly not the first time she's been wronged or the victim of prejudice in court. And much like the preceding incidents, Umpqua Bank's unfounded vengeance should also not stand:
But Ms. Kihagi still has a real fear that the courts will once again fall into foul play.

We as citizens and active members of the economy (and the law that guides it) must be educated and attempt to learn the law and stand-up when necessary.  For more information on Anna Kihagi & West 18th Properties, visit or follow her on Twitter @annekihagi1

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