WASHINGTON - T. Timothy Ryan, director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, has denied a charge by Rep. Henry Gonzales, D-Tex., that his agency procrastinated in seizing HomeFed Bank of San Diego.

"OTS does not practice or condone forbearance in any form," Mr. Ryan siad in a letter last Friday, three days after Rep. Gonzales sent an accusatory letter to him.

"To suggest with hindsight that institutions such as HomeFed could have been closed years ago is an inappropriate conclusion, a practice I know that you do not embrace and have found offensive in previous hearings," the OTS chief said.

Capital Requirement Met

He said HomeFed met its Tier 1 capital requirement for 1990 and had beefed up its loan-loss reserve. In June 1991, the OTS replaced HomeFed's management, and nine months later it put the $12.4 billion-asset thrift in the accelerated resolution program for expedited sale at the least cost to taxpayers.

Mr. Ryan said that "at least nine substantial acquirers had expressed interest in HomeFed," several conducted due diligence, and "this same strong interest remains."

The salvo is latest in a war of words between Congress and the administration over a request for additional funding for the Resolution Trust Corp.

Mr. Ryan has been critical of lawmakers' reluctance to provide the money and has said delays could increase the bailout cost. Mr. Gonzalez has made no secret that he resents Mr. Ryan's accusations.

In his letter, Mr. Ryan continued to blame Congress for draggng out the thrift cleanup.

"Congress has created a risk that these institutions will languish in protracted government ownership, increasing the ultimate cost to the taxpayers," he said.

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