BALTIMORE -- Provident Bankshares filed a suit in Baltimore City Circuit Court, accusing one-time acquisition target Sterling Bancorp of fraudulently inducing the aborted merger.

In an edited version of the suit released by the court, Provident said it was seeking $5 million in punitive damages plus attorney fees and expenses relating to the failed merger.

The suit also asks the court to rescind a letter of intent, which Provident backed out of in February.

Sterling, which had sued earlier to keep the merger on track, said Provident's suit was without merit.

Provident contends Sterling failed to mention during merger talks that it was subject to a memorandum of understanding with bank regulators. It also said Sterlinghi hid overdue loans and made false claims regarding the nature of its business.

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