While the Fed’s Washington-based Board of Governors is a federal agency subject to the Freedom of Information Act and other government rules, the New York Fed and other regional banks maintain they are separate institutions, owned by their member banks, and not subject to federal restrictions.
For that reason, the New York Fed alleged in the lawsuit brought by Bloomberg to force the Fed to reveal some information about its loans – Bloomberg LP v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 08-CV-9595, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan) – that it was not subject to Federal Freedom of Information Act.
As Bloomberg reported in a separate article:
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York … runs most of the lending programs. Most documents relevant to [a freedom of information lawsuit filed by Bloomberg news] are at the New York Fed, which isn’t subject to FOIA law, according to the central bank. The Board of Governors has 231 pages of documents, to which it is denying access under an exemption for trade secrets.
The long-time Chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee (Charles McFadden) said on June 10, 1932:
Some people think that the Federal Reserve Banks are United States Government institutions. They are private monopolies ….
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1928:
Instrumentalities like the national banks or the federal reserve banks, in which there are private interests, are not departments of the government. They are private corporations in which the government has an interest.
San Francisco Federal Reserve research analyst David Lang confirmed in 2011:
[Question]: “I had a really quick question, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco specifically, is that formed as a private corporation itself?”
David Lang: “Ah yes it is actually. yes our state chartered banks, banks under a charter share that and we pay a dividend on those shares.”
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