In an enforcement action stemming from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International scandal, the Federal Reserve Board on Tuesday settled charges against Clark M. Clifford and Robert A. Altman.
The politically well-connected lawyers, who did not admit to any wrongdoing, agreed to relinquish $5 million in Credit and Commerce America Holdings stock, which will be used to compensate depositors and creditors of BCCI.
Mr. Altman also agreed not to work as a banker without prior approval from regulators, although he still may serve as outside counsel to a bank and represent borrowers. The Fed dropped its demand that Mr. Clifford agree to a ban from banking, citing his poor health.
"This appears to be very favorable terms for both sides," said a Washington lawyer following the case. "The money is going to the victims, and the Federal Reserve got what it is looking for because neither Mr. Clifford nor Mr. Altman will work in banking again."
The Fed, in an amended notice filed with the settlement order, accused Mr. Clifford and Mr. Altman of helping BCCI illegally control Credit and Commerce America Holdings and its First American Bancshares subsidiary. It also said they provided "false and misleading" information to regulators and breached their fiduciary duties to CCAH stockholders.
Mr. Clifford and Mr. Altman, who were First American's chairman and president, respectively, consistently denied violating the law. They had faced nearly $40 million in penalties.
The Fed has been investigating Luxembourg-based BCCI and its top officials since 1991 for illegally acquiring a U.S. banking organization. BCCI pleaded guilty in December 1991 to using front men to buy stock in Credit and Commerce America Holdings. This was to avoid scrutiny from the government, which was unlikely to approve the deals because BCCI was not subject to consolidated supervision by its home-country regulator.