More banks have failed in Georgia than any other state as part of the current bank failure wave, but the FDIC had not yet filed a civil action against the former officials of a failed Georgia bank – that is, until now. On January 14, 2011, in what is the third FDIC lawsuit overall against former officials of a failed bank as part of the current round of bank failures, the FDIC filed a lawsuit against eight former officials of the failed Integrity Bank of Alpharetta, Georgia. The FDIC’s complaint can be found here.
UPDATE: As discussed further below, in addition to the Integrity Bank case, the FDIC also filed a separate lawsuit on January 14, 2011 in the Central District of California against former directors and officers of the failed 1st Centennial Bank of Redlands, California.
Including one bank closed already in 2011, there have been 52 bank failures in Georgia since January 1, 2008. Integrity Bank was one of the first in Georgia to fail when it was closed on August 28, 2008.
In some ways, it may come as no surprise that the FDIC filed its first failed bank lawsuit in Georgia against officials from Integrity Bank. As noted here, the FDIC had successfully intervened in a derivative lawsuit brought by the trustee of the bank’s bankrupt holding company. In moving to intervene in the trustee’s lawsuit, the FDIC had said that it intended to file its own lawsuit against former Integrity bank officials.
In addition, two former Integrity officials have already drawn criminal charges involving activities at the bank, as discussed here. One of the two indicted Integrity officials, Douglas Ballard, is also named as a defendant in the FDIC’s civil lawsuit. As noted here, in July 2010, the two individuals entered criminal guilty pleas in the case.
As noted in Scott Trubey’s January 18, 2011 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article about the FDIC’s civil suit (here), among the former Integrity Bank officials names as defendants in the FDIC’s lawsuit is Georgia State Senator Jack S. Murphy, who was only recently named as Chairman of the Georgia Senate Banking Committee. Another defendant, Clinton M. Day, a former bank chairman, previously was a state senator and was at one time the Republican Candidate for lieutenant governor, and also once served on the Senate Banking Committee
The FDIC, which filed the lawsuit in its capacity as Integrity Bank’s receiver, seeks to recover “over $70 million in losses” that the FDIC alleges the bank suffered on 21 commercial and residential acquisition, development and construction loans between February 4, 2005 and May 2, 2007.
The 56-page complaint, which names as defendants eight former directors of the company who also served on the bank’s director loan committee, alleges one count of negligence and gross negligence, and one count of breach of fiduciary duties.
The complaint alleges that the 21 loans at issue were “concentrated in a small number of preferred individual borrowers,” in violation both of the bank’s own lending policies and applicable statutory lending limits. The loans are alleged to have been made without appropriate documentation and with inadequate collateral. The complaint alleges that state and federal regulators “repeatedly warned” the bank about its heavily concentrated loan portfolio and lax oversight and control of its lending function.
The complaint concludes that “the years of excess risk taking and lack of oversight by the Defendants that fueled Integrity’s astronomical growth ultimately led to its failure on August 29, 2008.” The complaint also quotes the bank’s founder as admitting that “Our overwhelming success up to [mid-2006] became intoxicating and we shifted some of our focus from asset quality to earnings and growth which was a mistake …[t]his shift in our focus also created gaps in the enforcement of Bank policies and procedures. In other words, we became lax on having our checker checking the checker.”
Though a total of 325 banks have failed since January 1, 2008 (through Friday January 14, 2011), the Integrity Bank lawsuit is only the FDIC’s third lawsuit against former officials of failed banks filed as part of the current wave of bank failures. There undoubtedly are more lawsuits to come, as the FDIC’s website indicates (here) that through December 2010 the FDIC has authorized lawsuits against a total of 109 former bank officials. The website clearly shows that lawsuits against additional officials are being authorized each month.
With the likelihood of many more lawsuits to come, I have started a list of the FDIC’s lawsuits, which can be accessed on accompanying blog post, here.
Special thanks to alert loyal readers who alerted me to this new lawsuit.
UPDATE: FDIC Also FIles Suit Against 1st Centennial Bank: After I first published this blog post, I learned that that in addition to the Integrity Bank lawsuit, the FDIC also filed a lawsuit on January 14, 2011 against 12 former directors and officers of the failed 1st Centennial Bank of Redlands, California. A copy of the FDIC's 1st Centennial complaint can be found here.
1st Centennial failed on January 23, 2009, so the FDIC's lawsuit arrived about two years after the bank first failed.
The complaint alleges that after a period of rapid growth, and at a time when it was apparent that the Southern California real estate market was already in decilne, the bank increased its exposure to the riskiest loans, in excess of regulatory limits. The complaint alleges that by concentrating the bank's activities in these riskiest loans, the bank suffered capital and liquidity problems. The complaint specifically alleges that the defendants 16 specific loans that caused the bank at least $26.8 million in losses. The complaint alleges that the bank's failure caused the FDIC insurance fund losses of about $163 million.
I have added the 1st Centennial bank complaint to my list of bank lawsuits, which as a result of this latest suit now shows that the FDIC has launched a total of four lawsuits so far as part of the current wave of bank failures.