CHICAGO - The largest black-owned bank in the United States has entered the municipal bond trustee business.

Chicago-based Seaway National Bank has opened a corporate trust services department with the hiring of Dedra DeLaney, a 15-year veteran of Continental Bank.

DeLaney, who recently joined Seaway as a vice president and trust officer, said the bank will begin calling on municipal officials in the Chicago area this week.

"Initially, we're going to look within the Chicago area," DeLaney said. "We see a lot of potential because many municipalities have minority participation goals, and not a lot of minority banks have trust powers."

DeLaney said the bank decided to get into the trust business after it received a number of inquiries from municipalities interested in using the bank as a trustee. She said that Seaway received approval to start a trust department from the U.S. comptroller of the currency earlier this year.

Seaway's services will be competitive with those of larger banks in Chicago, DeLaney said, adding that the bank plans to hire another trust officer. The new department's back-office operations will be handled by an outside service in order to take advantage of the latest technology, she said.

At Chicago-based Continental Bank, where she worked since 1978, DeLaney was a corporate trust officer and a vice president involved in mortgage-backed, municipal, and other bond financings.

A subsidiary of Seaway Banc-shares Inc., Seaway National Bank has $202 million of assets.

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