Carver Bancorp Inc., owner of the nation's largest African- and Caribbean American-run bank, reduced the dividend rate it pays to the government by shifting to another federal program.

Carver exchanged $18.98 million of preferred stock held by the Treasury Department through the Troubled Asset Relief Program with the same amount of stock through the Community Development Capital Initiative, aimed at encouraging lending in lower-income areas, the company said Monday.

Carver's payments to the Treasury will fall to 2% from 5%, saving $569,000 a year, the bank said.

The move also extends the period that Carver can use the government program to eight years from five.

Carver, of New York, has been trying to recover from loan defaults and last reported an annual profit in fiscal 2008. Federal regulators told the bank in February 2009 to reduce its concentration in commercial lending and limited the amount of deposits that could come from outside brokers.

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