WASHINGTON -- Seattle-First National Bank has agreed to pay federal regulators a $75,000 penalty for failing to report the theft of $2.9 million of bonds, including municipals, it had shipped to a New York City bank for collection.
The settlement came in an action involving undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agents that was announced yesterday by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The case involves Seafirst's role as customer's agent. When a customer brings a bond or coupon to one of Seafirst's offices to be redeemed and the bank is not the paying agent, Seafirst sends the items out for collection either directly to the paying agent or through a New York bank.
In December 1992, Seafirst, acting as an agent for its customers, shipped by overnight delivery a variety of bonds that had matured or been called to a New York bank for collection from paying agents for each issuer, according to a seven-page administrative proceeding announced by the regulators.
Donald Lamson, assistant director of the securities division of the currency comptroller's law department, declined to name the New York bank involved in the case.
On Feb. 4, 1993, the bank informed Seafirst that the FBI, as part of an ongoing undercover investigation, had purchased about $2.9 million of bonds and coupons that had been stolen while they were in transit from Seafirst to New York City, the document says.
Neither Seafirst nor the bank was aware that the bonds and coupons were missing, the regulators say. Seafirst failed to confirm with the New York bank that the bank had received the bonds, even though the bank's payment for some of the items was more than four weeks overdue.
The SEC and the Office f the Comptroller of the Currency charged that Seafirst violated the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by failing to contact the New York bank to confirm that it had not received the securities even though payment was more than 10 days overdue. The regulators also charged that Seafirst failed to file a report when it discovered that the securities had been stolen and that its own record-keeping practices had contributed to the problem.
Seafirst officials could not be reached for comment on the settlement.