WASHINGTON -- Bank customers won an important victory when a federal appeals court made it more difficult for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to renege on oral agreements consumers made with failed institutions.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled Aug. 26 that the FDIC has to answer charges that it owes E.I. Dupont $1 million that the failed United National Bank of Washington was supposed to be holding in escrow for the giant chemical manufacturer.

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