In the fifth FDIC lawsuit against former directors and officers of failed banks as part of the current bank wave, on March 1, 2011, the FDIC as receiver for the failed Corn Belt Bank and Trust Company filed suit in the Central District of Illinois federal court against four former officer and directors of the bank, seeking to recover losses of at least $10.4 million.. A copy of the FDIC’s latest complaint can be found here.


According to the Complaint, examiners began criticizing the bank’s lending practices as early as 2003. The Complaint alleged that between 2003 and 2008 the bank "failed to address recurring criticisms by examiners regarding imprudent lending practices," and April 2, 2007, the bank entered a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with examiners. In November 2008, after the bank failed to comply with the MOU, the FDIC issued a cease and desist order. The bank ultimately failed on February 13, 2009.


The lawsuit itself is failed against the four members of the bank’s loan committee. These four individuals include the bank’s CEO, its chief lending officer and two outside directors. The complaint alleges that the four defendants "failed to adequately inform themselves of the relevant risks and acted recklessly in approving one or more of five high-risk commercial loans."


The five loans, all of which were made between 2005 and 2007 and all of which related to the long-haul trucking business, allegedly were "improperly underwritten and extended 100 percent financing to out of state, start-up businesses, and were primarily secured by rapidly depreciating semi-tractors." The complaint further alleges that the CEO and Chief Loan officer unilaterally funded the fifth of the five loans after the loan committee tabled its approval, and they failed to unsure that the loans were properly administered.


The complaint alleges that the defendants’ alleged conduct was "particularly egregious" because they approved one or more of the five loans "after Bank examiners repeatedly warned the Bank that it suffered from weak loan administration, and that it was facing risks posed by out of area lending, high loan-to-value ("LTV") loans, and excessive exposure to loan concentrations within its loan portfolio." All five of the loans at issue allegedly shared these characteristics.


The complaint alleges gross negligence under FIRREA and negligence under Illinois law against the four individuals for approving the loans. The complaint also specifically alleges gross negligence under FIRREA and negligence under Illinois law against the former CEO and the former chief lending officer in connection with the approval of the fifth of the five loans. Finally, the complaint alleges gross negligence under FIRREA and negligence under Illinois law against the former CEO and former chief lending officer for failing to properly administer the loans and for failing to protect the bank’s security interest in the collateral.


The FDIC’s complaint against the four former Corn Belt officials is just the fifth complaint filed so far as part of the current bank wave, and first since the FDIC filed two complaint’s the same day in January 2011. It is the second of the five to be filed against officials of a failed bank that had been based in Illinois. The complaint is interesting because it not only names the two bank officers as defendants, but it also names two outside directors who had served on the bank’s loan committee, as well.


Like the four prior lawsuits the FDIC filed as part of the current wave of bank failures, this lawsuit was filed over a year after the institution itself failed. Although the FDIC’s motivations can only be inferred, it appears that what may have provoked this suit is what the FDIC attempted to describe as the defendant’s "particularly egregious" conduct of having approved these particularly loans in the fact of examiners’ warning about loans sharing the characteristics of the five loans at issue.


In the Professional Liability Litigation page on the FDIC’s website (here), the FDIC has said, as of its last update, that it has approved lawsuits against a total of 130 individuals. The four previous lawsuits that had been filed named a total of 35 individuals as defendants. With the addition of the four individuals named as defendants on the Corn Belt lawsuit, a total of 39 individuals have now been named as defendants, suggesting that lawsuits to be filed against 91 additional individuals remain pending. Of court, the total number of individuals against who lawsuits have been authorized is likely to continue to grow as well.


My table of the lawsuits the FDIC has filed against former directors and officers of failed banks as part of the current failed bank wave can be accessed here.


Special thanks to a loyal reader for alerting me to the Corn Belt lawsuit.