Loan losses in the United States and abroad could damage upcoming earnings at BankBoston Corp. and BankAmerica Corp.
On Wednesday, BankBoston said that it was seeking to recover some $70 million in unauthorized loans . The bank said that it hoped either to recover the loans or collect from an insurance policy with Lloyds of London for the portion it may not be able to recover.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has charged Ricardo Carrasco, a U.S. national and senior officer at the New York office, with embezzlement. As of yesterday, he was still being sought by law enforcement authorities.
A BankBoston spokeswoman said that to the extent there will be chargeoffs from losses "they will appear in the first half of this year." She emphasized, however, that the bank expected to meet analysts' expectations for earnings for this year.
At least part of the loans are understood to have been made to third parties outside the United States.
Analysts were unavailable for comment on the BankBoston announcement or on a statement from BankAmerica's annual report advising shareholders it expected further losses in Asia this year. However, a number have recently predicted that U.S. banks with sizable exposure to Asian countries are likely to post additional losses over the course of this year.
BankAmerica said in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission that it expected "some increase in problem loans, which may be reflected in an increase in nonaccrual assets, provision for credit losses, and actual chargeoffs."
The bank added that slow economic growth in Asia "will make it more difficult for BAC (BankAmerica) to generate revenues" from that part of the world. Volatile trading conditions, the bank added, offered the possibility of higher trading revenues as well as increased the risk of losses.
BankAmerica had a combined $13.7 billion in exposure to Asian countries at yearend. That included $2.8 billion to South Korea, $881 to Thailand, $684 million to Indonesia, and $2.6 billion to Japan.