Corus Bankshares reported a decline in first-quarter earnings as real estate and student loan problems continued to hobble the usually high-performing bank.

Corus earned $9.3 million during the first three months of 1997, 19% less than in the year-earlier period.

The $2.2 billion-asset bank's first-quarter annualized return on assets was 1.67%, down from 2.14% in the first quarter of 1996.

Increased chargeoffs accounted for some of the decline. Corus charged off $6.5 million during the first quarter, compared with $931,000 the year before.

The student-loan problems were caused, Corus said, by former employees who didn't follow servicing requirements needed to maintain federal guarantees. The events that led to the portfolio problems are now under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education, the bank said.

At March 31, it had $3.6 million of nonaccrual student loans for which it won't seek guarantee payments. The bank has written off $8 million of student loans in the past two quarters.

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