The former chairman of a California bank, his wife, and his brother have agreed to banishment from the industry and fines of more than $200,000 to settle charges that they ran the bank for their personal benefit.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency had charged Gerald Garner with secretly extending credit to his wife, who was also a director of the bank, and his brother, who was a senior official.
The agency seized their American Commerce National Bank, Anaheim, in April 1993.
In the settlement, the Garners neither admitted nor denied guilt. Gerald, Joan, and Daniel Garner must pay a total of $204,000.
The Garners could not be reached for comment. Gerald Garner is still fighting the OCC. In a $75 million lawsuit, he charges the regulator with wrongful seizure of his bank.
The fine is "one of the biggest ... to be leveled in a number of years," said Frank Goldman, an attorney with the Comptroller's Office. "The bank had its fair share of problems.
The Garners were also accused of using bank funds to pay Gerald Garner's personal legal expenses; of concealing the position of Mr. Garner's brother at the bank; and of hiding the bank's true financial condition.
In addition, Mr. Garner had the bank file a lawsuit without evidence to support its charges and pay excessive compensation to him and the other directors, according to the Comptroller's Office.
The OCC also alleged that the Garners made false statements to national bank examiners; concealed ownership interests in entities that received extensions of credit from the bank; and extended credit to related entities without adequate financial information and controls.
The Comptroller's Office had already reached settlements with five former American Commerce directors - Eugene Alterman, Norman Charney, Michael Hales, Stanley Kaller, and Judy Mandel - and with Robert Young, a former senior credit administrator.
The six agreed to pay a total of $35,000 in fines, and the five directors were banned from the industry. Mr. Young agreed to less severe restrictions.
Though American Commerce was closed by the Comptroller's Office in 1993, it had reported earnings of $1.7 million in 1992. But the regulator moved in after determining that the bank was in an "unsafe and unsound condition to transact business."
The Comptroller's Office began to have its suspicions about American Commerce in the 1980s. A 1988 examination uncovered problems in credit quality, and the next year the agency hit the bank with a formal enforcement action, demanding that managerial problems be corrected. The bank apparently ignored the order.
Subsequent investigations uncovered additional problems, leading to the bank's closure in 1993. An OCC public hearing on its proposed action against the Garners began last summer and concluded in early February.
Last week the Justice Department filed in behalf of the Comptroller's Office for summary judgment on Mr. Garner's lawsuit. The motion was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.