LOS ANGELES - A federal grand jury has returned a 55-count indictment against Thomas Spiegel, former president and a chief executive of the defunct Columbia Savings and loan Association, Beverly Hills, Calif.

Mr. Spiegel was charged with misappropriating millions of dollars of Columbia funds for his personal benefit, misappropriating Columbia money and property for personal use, obtaining personal benefits by causing Columbia to enter into contracts with an outside company, and misrepresenting to federal regulators the extent of his compensation.

Business Transactions

The indictment also alleged that Mr. Spiegel abused his position at Columbia by obtaining illegal personal benefits in several significant business transactions.

Stock warrants, known as "equity kickers," were made available to Mr. Spiegel by Drexel Burnham Lambert in connection with Columbia's $78 million investment in the 1986 leveraged buyout of Storer Communications by the investment banking firm of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., the government said.

Discount from Designer

Mr. Spiegel also allegedly obtained a discount worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from an interior designer for work done on his personal residences, in exchange for directing certain Columbia business contracts to the designer.

Columbia failed in 1991 at an estimated cost to taxpayers of more than $2 billion.

Also cited was a $28 million business deal between Columbia and Gregg Motors, a Santa Barbara, Calif., auto dealership, that included a loan from Columbia based on allegedly false financial statements, leading to losses of as much as $20 million.

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