The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a lawsuit against BankAtlantic Bancorp and its chief executive for allegedly misleading investors about problems in its loan portfolio.

The SEC filed a complaint Wednesday against the $3.7 billion-asset BankAtlantic and Alan Levan, who is also the company's chairman. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, accused BankAtlantic and Levan of hiding "the deteriorating state of a large portion" of the company's commercial residential loan portfolio in 2007. The lawsuit also claimed that the Ft. Lauderdale company and Levan committed accounting fraud by improperly recording loans that they were trying to sell in late 2007 to make it look like they were minimizing losses.

BankAtlantic in November agreed to sell its thrift to BB&T Corp., though the company was subsequently sued by holders of its trust preferred securities who hope to block the sale.

The SEC is seeking financial penalties and permanent injunctive relief against BankAtlantic and Levan. The lawsuit also seek to ban Levan from being an officer and director of any public company.

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