Going against the recommendation of its own administrative law judge, the Office of Thrift Supervision last week slapped a $683,600 fine against a well-known industry consultant who served on the board of a Florida thrift.
Donald M. Kaplan, managing director of Kaplan Associates Inc., a Washington-based mergers and acquisitions firm, called the OTS charges "baseless" and said he will fight them in federal court.
Mr. Kaplan was on the boards of both American Savings and Loan Association of Florida and its parent company, the Enstar Group Inc., when Enstar illegally shifted $38.3 million from the thrift to another subsidiary in 1990. Enstar subsequently went bankrupt, and American Savings - since bought by First Union Corp. - lost $24.7 million.
The OTS, which has already settled with the chief executives of American Savings and Enstar, hit Mr. Kaplan in 1994 with an enforcement order seeking $18.6 million in penalties and a ban from banking. In June 1995, an OTS administrative law judge recommended throwing out the charges because, he said, the agency had failed to show that Mr. Kaplan knew about the money switch.
In the decision issued last Friday, however, OTS acting director Jonathan Fiechter said the judge had relied on "uncorroborated statements" by Mr. Kaplan. The agency also banned Mr. Kaplan from simultaneously sitting on the boards of a thrift and its parent.