NEW YORK - Carver Federal Savings Bank, the nation's largest minority-owned institution, has joined two Florida thrifts in suing the New York State Banking Department to prevent collateral for a loan to the thrift from being used to pay off creditors of a failed check processing company.

Carver accuses the department and Superintendent of Banking Neil D. Levin of seizing almost $2 million in collateral provided to Nationar to secure a loan to Carver's Employee Stock Option Plan.

The thrift claims that Mr. Levin plans to use the collateral as general funds of Nationar to repay the company's creditors. Carver is demanding that the money either be returned to the thrift or be transferred along with the loan and the rest of the collateral to Northwest Savings Bank, Warren, Pa., which bought Nationar's ESOP loan portfolio.

Similar suits were filed last May by the two Florida thrifts, Harbor Federal Savings Bank in Fort Pierce and Community Savings in North Palm Beach. They had also taken out ESOP loans with Nationar. A decision by the state Supreme Court is expected in the first quarter, said the thrifts' attorney, Raymond J. Gustini of Peabody & Brown in Washington.

Nationar, a check processing company owned by New York State's thrifts, was seized by the state last February because of liquidity problems caused by a run on its funds.

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