Bank victims blame Obama fundraiser

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The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) protected each Superior Bank depositor up to $100,000. In an e-mail, the Obama campaign said that as a result of the money that the Pritzker family paid to the government, each of the depositors who exceeded the insured amount when it failed has recovered about 69 percent of the uninsured amounts.

It said they would continue to receive future payments.

In a statement on Mr. Obama’s Web page, Ms. Pritzker described Superior’s failure as “complex,” saying it was shut down by federal regulators who concluded that the “valuation of certain assets in Superior’s financial statements … was overstated and as a result the bank was not capitalized sufficiently.” She said she was “proud of how my family responded to this situation.”

What happened

The Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), a Treasury Department agency that regulates federal savings associations, closed Superior and its 18 branch offices on July 27, 2001, naming the FDIC as conservator. At the time, the FDIC said the bank’s financial condition had “rapidly deteriorated” and its management was “unable to resolve existing problems.

A Feb. 7, 2002, FDIC report said the bank’s failure “was directly attributable to the bank´s board of directors and executives ignoring sound risk management principles.” The report said the bank “paid dividends and other financial benefits without regard to the deteriorating financial and operating condition of Superior.”

“Superior Bank suffered as a result of its former high-risk business strategy, which was focused on the generation of significant volumes of subprime mortgage and automobile loans for securitization and sale in the secondary market,” the OTS said. “The bank also suffered from poor lending practices, improper record keeping and accounting, and ineffective board and management supervision.”

The bank began operations in 1988 under conditions created by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, which made generous arrangements for the takeover of several failed thrifts. The equal-share buyers included the Pritzker family of Chicago, one of America’s wealthiest as owners of the Hyatt hotel chain, and the Dworman family of New York, with interests in real estate and financial services.

The partnership operated through Coast-to-Coast Financial Corporation (CCFC), which purchased the bank for $42.5 million with the buyers receiving assistance from the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp. (FSLIC), which contributed a package of cash, tax credits and loan guarantees worth $645 million, according to FDIC records.

Superior was one of the first banks in the 1990s to turn to the emerging practice of subprime lending, where loans are targeted to high-risk borrowers at higher interest rates. Recipients of those loans often have loan delinquency or default histories, bankruptcies or limited debt experience, and by the middle of this decade, they began defaulting on their new mortgages. A dramatic rise in those defaults and foreclosures is blamed, in part, for the recent financial crisis.

During a campaign speech in July in Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama said the nation’s mortgage crisis “has to do with the fact that people got suckered into loans they could not pay”- adding that the banks and financial institutions that made the loans were “making money hand over fist” but knew that many of the deals were “just too good to be true.”

Superior Bank’s failure in his home state of Illinois has not been a topic of Mr. Obama’s campaign speeches, but he has often praised Ms. Pritzker as a “no-nonsense, no-drama, no-ego person.” He told reporters during a flight on his campaign jet in July that he and Mrs. Pritzker “share certain core values about how to run organizations, and hopefully that will inform how we manage the government.”

About 1,400 underinsured Superior Bank depositors ultimately were paid the FDIC-guaranteed insured amount of $100,000 but are still owed about $18 million. Mr. Courtney, the contractor, described as “galling” the fact that the Pritzker family gave $30 million to the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine a year after the bank closed while he still awaits his own money.

“We just don’t count,” he said.

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