Symptom of the Disease: Senator calls regulators for “updates” (3)

Central Pacific Bank received a $135 million injection of capital from the Treasury Department two weeks after Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) had one of his aides contact the FDIC and ask about an application for TARP funds. Nothing illegal here, but doesn’t it smell rotten? Just another symptom of the disease example.

Central Pacific’s odd for getting TARP funding were not too good, but they got the cash anyway.

Central Pacific is Hawaii’s fourth-largest bank, holding about 15 percent of the state’s deposits. In recent years, it increasingly used the money to make loans in California, funding several large residential developments. By last year, the bank was facing the consequences of California’s collapsing housing market. In July , Central Pacific reported a quarterly loss of $146 million, matching its total profit in the previous three years.

In October, shortly after the government announced that it would invest billions of dollars in banks to spur new lending, Central Pacific submitted an application under the initiative, called the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP.

The bank faced long odds. More than 1,600 banks submitted applications to the FDIC in the three months after the program was announced, according to a report by the FDIC’s inspector general’s office. The agency forwarded 408 applications to Treasury, which approved only 267, or roughly 16 percent of the total.

Central Pacific’s situation was even bleaker because it was in trouble with the FDIC. Regulators had raised concerns about the bank earlier in the year. The bank would soon sign an agreement with its state regulator and the FDIC requiring it to raise an additional $40 million in capital and to improve its management practices.

Inouye owns a chunk of the bank, and his actions probably are not as in-your-face as other members of congress.

Inouye reported ownership of Central Pacific shares worth $350,000 to $700,000, some held by his wife, at the end of 2007. The shares represented at least two-thirds of Inouye’s total reported assets. Inouye has requested a delay in filing his annual financial disclosure for 2008, which was due this spring, and he declined to provide the current value of his investment. Since the end of 2007, the bank’s stock has lost 79 percent of its value. …

The most similar known case comes from the House. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) arranged a meeting between regulators and OneUnited of Massachusetts, a bank in which her husband held shares. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who did not own shares in the company, subsequently inserted language into the bailout bill that effectively directed the Treasury to give special consideration to that bank

Again, this example is just a symptom of the real problem that must eventually be addressed, the power that the legislative branch currently has is well beyond what the Founders – and the U.S. Constitution – envisioned.

Hat tip to Jim Geraghty at NRO.

1 reply

Comments are closed.