Customers of an Illinois bank aren't the only ones who get fined for bouncing checks or making other mistakes. Lake Forest Bank and Trust punishes itself for making mistakes as well.

It's called the Oops Guarantee Program, and it's Lake Forest's way of showing that it will treat itself the same as its customers.

"We work hard to meet the highest standards in banking, but we're not perfect," said Ed Wehmer, president. "If we charge our customers for their mistakes, they should charge us for ours."

Customers get $3 for showing the bank that it made some sort of boo-boo, such as making them wait more than five minutes for a teller or calling someone "David" when his name is "Joe."

"You will seldom see a big bank attempt this," Mr. Wehmer said. - Christopher Rhoads


Speaking of "oops," New York's Emigrant Savings Bank apparently forgot how big a stake it owned in a local thrift.

Emigrant has been a longtime benevolent stockholder in Queens County Bancorp, maintaining a 4.98% stake. Last November, however, officials decided to buy a few extra shares - about 48,000 to be exact, for $2 million.

But Emigrant apparently forgot about the Bank Holding Company Act, which forbids a bank from owning more than 5% of another institution without permission from regulators. The November purchase put Emigrant's stake at 5.62%.

When Queens County Bancorp officials reminded Emigrant, the larger thrift quickly sold 40,000 shares, at a loss of almost $400,000, to get back below 5%, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Emigrant has now asked permission of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to buy up to 10% of Queens County stock, according to the latter's president and chief executive, Joseph R. Ficalora.

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