One of the ways in which the current wave of bank failures is different from the failures during the S&L crisis is that this time around, by comparison to that prior period, a number of the bank closures have been accompanied by shareholder lawsuits brought against the former directors and officers of the failed institutions. Some of these shareholder suits have survived dismissal motions, as was the case, for example, with the lawsuit involving Corus Bankshares, the recent settlement of which is discussed below.
But there have also been a number of these failed bank shareholder suits that have not survived the preliminary motions, as was the case with the shareholder suit involving UCBH Holdings, as also described below. To be sure, the court's grant of the UCBH defendants' motion to dismiss is without prejudice. But in view of the nature of the factual allegations involved, the dismissal motion ruling is noteworthy. In particular the court's consideration of the FDIC's regulatory actions regarding the bank are particularly interesting.
UCBH was the holding company of United Commercial Bank of San Francisco. The FDIC took control of United Commercial Bank on November 6, 2009 (refer here). Shareholders filed a securities class action lawsuit in the Northern District of California against eight officer defendants and six director defendants, as discussed at greater length here. Their complaint originally named UCBH as well, but following UCBH's November 25, 2009 bankruptcy filing, the claims against UCBH itself were stayed.
The plaintiffs allege that during the class period the defendants issued false and misleading statements concerning UCBH's allowances and provisions for loan loss and falsely represented that the company's financial reporting controls were effective. The complaint further alleges that on May 8, 2009, the company's auditor, KPMG, met with the FDIC and state banking authorities to discuss the deterioration in asset quality and overall deterioration of UCBH's financial condition.
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Read other items of interest from the world of directors & officers liability, with occasional commentary, at the D&O Diary, a blog by Kevin LaCroix.
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