I am pleased to present below a guest post by Mike Hogan, Executive Vice President at U.S. Risk Financial Services. I would like to thank Mike for his willingness to publish his article on this site. I am interested in publishing guest posts from responsible commentators on topics of interest to readers of this blog. Please contact me directly if you are interested in submitting a guest post for consideration.

 

Here is Mike’s guest post:

 

The banking crisis of the 1980’s, resulted in the passage of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Endorsement Act by Congress, (FIRREA) that significantly increased the penalties for both banks, and individuals and broadened the applicability of Civil Money Penalties. These penalties may be assessed for the violation of any law, regulation, as well as for a violation of any condition imposed in writing by the appropriate Federal banking agency in connection with any written agreement between a depository institution and the agency.

 

Clearly, the banking industry has suffered through some of its most difficult times during the last three years as indicated by the 25 bank failures in 2008, 140 bank failures in 2009 and 157 failures in 2010. This year, thru September 2, 70 banks have failed with the expectation of considerably more before year end.  This year, on June 24, 2011, the FDIC announced  57 enforcement actions against problem banks that included 11 Civil Money Penalties, the majority of which were issued to individuals. 

 

As a result of these failures and the fact that over 800 banks are currently on the FDIC “Problem Bank List”, the agency has initiated a new trend to review directors and officer’s liability policies during their examinations. The intent of this review is to determine if there is a “regulatory exclusion” on the policy and to identify the potential limits of liability that might be available for recovery of losses the FDIC sustains when taking a bank into receivership.  

 

In the last few months the FDIC has also begun to review bank D&O Insurance  policies to determine if a “Civil Money Penalty” endorsement attached to the policy. If they find a Civil Money Penalty endorsement is attached to the policy, the agency is issuing citations to the bank along with a requirement that the endorsement be immediately deleted from the policy.

 

According to this author’s interview of an attorney in the FDIC’s legal division, the governing bank regulation is the Deposit Insurance Act (12 U.S.C. 1828(k)) Part 359.1(1)(2)  - Golden Parachute and Indemnification Payments. This regulation provides that a depository institution may not purchase an insurance policy that would be used “to pay or reimburse an IAP (institution affiliated party a.k.a Directors and Officers) for the cost of any judgment or Civil Money Penalty assessed against such person in an administrative proceeding or civil action commenced by any federal banking agency…”. Section 18(k) of the statute includes the same prohibitions. (See 12 U.S.C. 1828( k) (5)-(6) ). (Both Part 359 and Section 18 prohibit the bank from purchasing an insurance policy that includes Civil Money Penalties insurance coverage. 

 

The FDIC’s position with respect to insurance for Civil Money Penalties is made even more difficult by the period of time such coverage has been made available.  Over the last twenty years, most if not all of the principal insurers that offer directors and officers liability insurance to banks have also provided Civil Money Penalties coverage for bank officers and directors as long as the bank is performing well and have no current regulatory concerns. During this period, banks have been advised to retain photocopies of the Directors and Officers personal checks in the event the bank has to prove that these individuals had paid for the coverage personally. This was based on the assumption that if the bank could prove that the directors and officers paid for the coverage personally, that the FDIC wouldn’t object to the coverage. 

 

Insurance agents and brokers that have placed directors and officers liability insurance that include Civil Money Penalties coverage are potentially exposed to criticism for offering coverage that is contrary to FDIC rules and regulations,  and putting their client bank in a situation where the FDIC  cites the bank for violation of the FDIC regulations.   Equally, agents could be faced with competition from agents and other Insurers who are willing to offer the coverage in spite of these regulations.  Interestingly, many of the bank directors and officers liability insurers are continuing to offer bank management the choice of whether they want to purchase the coverage or not. 

 

These issues would lead most agents to believe that the most appropriate approach is to be proactive by advising their client bank management of the regulation and its intent so the directors and officers can make their own decision on whether to retain the current endorsements on the directors and officers liability policy or to remove it prior to the next FDIC exam. 

 

The FDIC attorney this author consulted further advised that the FDIC has no concerns or interest in policies where the bank is not named as an Insured on the policy. This could lead insurers to consider other options for providing Civil Money Penalties coverage. For example, the coverage could be offered through a stand alone policy where the bank is not named as an Insured. Alternatively, insurers may consider offering the coverage on a Side A Policy naming the Board and officers as Named Insureds or on an Individual D&O policy by endorsement. In either event,   directors and officers will have to pay for the coverage personally, as opposed to the bank purchasing it on their behalf. 

 

My New All-Time Favorite Headline: Our sincerest condolences to the family of the late Percy Foster. We mean no disrespect. But you have to admit, it is pretty hard to beat this headline from the September 14, 2011 issue of Perth Now: "Gordon Ramsay’s Dwarf Porn Double Dies in Badger Den." (here)