UNITED WESTERN BANKCORP INC. (UWBK)
Shares Outstanding: 29.26
PR FROM FEBRUARY 2011 ANNOUNCING COMPLAINT AGAINST THE OTS (OFFICE OF THRIFT SUPERVISION):
DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- United Western Bancorp, Inc. (the "Company"), a Denver-based holding company whose principal subsidiary was formerly United Western Bank® (the "Bank), today announced that on February 18, 2011, the Company filed a Complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the Office of Thrift Supervision (the "OTS"), the Acting Director of the OTS (the "Acting Director") and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (the "FDIC").
On January 21, 2011, the Acting of the OTS, in cooperation with the FDIC, seized the Bank and appointed the FDIC receiver based on three alleged grounds: (i) the Bank was undercapitalized and failed to submit an acceptable capital restoration plan ("CRP") within the time prescribed by statute; (ii) the Bank was likely to be unable to pay its obligations or meet its depositors' demands in the normal course of business; and, (iii) the Bank was in an unsafe or unsound condition to transact business. The Company alleges in the Complaint that none of these grounds existed at the time of the seizure.
A. Gibson, Chairman of the Board of the Company said, "The seizure order issued on January 21, 2011 by the OTS, appointing the FDIC as receiver, is arbitrary and capricious and lacked any rational basis in applicable law."
The Company's Complaint refutes the allegations made by the FDIC and the OTS, and importantly, among other facts cites:
The Acting Director of the OTS, without any reasonable basis, concluded the Bank had failed to submit a CRP acceptable to the OTS. However, despite the statutory requirement that institutions be given a reasonable time to submit a CRP, the OTS demanded that the Bank submit a CRP within seven days, a clearly unreasonable request in excess of its statutory authority.
The Bank's capital position provided no basis to accelerate the standard 45 day time frame for filing a CRP. On December 3, 2010, the OTS directed the Bank to take a capital write-down with the intent of lowering the Bank's capital ratio as much as necessary in order to create the illusion that the Bank was not adequately capitalized. The result of this arbitrary and capricious directive was to lower the Bank's total risk-based capital ratio to 7.8 percent (which is only 0.2 percent below the 8.0 percent ratio required to be considered adequately capitalized). But for the OTS's arbitrary and capricious directive, the Bank would have remained within the technical definition of adequately capitalized and not been subject to the requirement that it submit a CRP.
The Company believes that the seizure of a Bank with a reported total risk-based capital ratio of 7.8 percent and a pending recapitalization is unprecedented. If the standard applied by the OTS to United Western Bank was uniformly applied to banks across the country, a significant number of those banks would be subject to immediate seizure. The majority of the institutions closed by the OTS in 2009 and 2010 were critically undercapitalized, meaning that the ratio of tangible equity to total assets was less than 2 percent. A number of these institutions were insolvent; for example, one of these institutions had a core capital ratio of negative 7.11 percent and a total risk-based capital ratio of negative 7.36 percent.
The Company's research suggests the OTS has not accepted any CRP submitted to it during this financial crisis. Instead, the OTS appears to reject CRPs as a matter of course, regardless of merit, and then asserts that the failure to submit an acceptable CRP is grounds for receivership. The rejection of the Bank's CRP was part of this unreasonable pattern by the OTS.
No grounds existed for the Acting Director to reasonably conclude that United Western was likely to be unable to pay its obligations or meet its depositors' demands in the normal course of business. The liquidity concerns asserted by the OTS and FDIC were based on their unfounded disapproval of the Bank's 17 year-old business model and a fundamental misunderstanding of the Bank's long-term, contractual relationships with certain of its institutional depositors. There was no rational basis for the OTS or FDIC to conclude that the Bank would not continue to effectively manage its institutional depositor relationships as the Bank had for almost two decades, including through the worst of the financial crisis in 2008 and going forward. The institutional depositors would have maintained funds on deposit absent an arbitrary or capricious action by the OTS or FDIC to force withdrawal of such funds. The Bank repeatedly, most recently as of January 20, 2011, advised the OTS that this was the case. The Bank had ample liquidity to pay its obligations and meet depositor demands.
The Bank had over $400 million of cash at the time of the seizure, which represented approximately 25% of total deposits on January 21, 2011.
The Company and the Bank were very close to completing a recapitalization transaction of $200 million, with commitments in place of $149.5 million and parties identified to complete the transaction at the time of the seizure of the Bank by the FDIC. The completion of this transaction would have eliminated the need to seize the Bank, thereby avoiding a significant loss to the Deposit Insurance Fund. This information was provided to the OTS on January 20, 2011.
The Company is represented in this law suit by its internal counsel and certain inside directors of the Company and certain former inside directors of the Bank are represented by BuckleySandler, LLP of Washington, D.C. and certain independent directors of the Company and certain former independent directors of the Bank are represented by the Washington office of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky &Walker LLP.
Jim Peoples, former CEO, left, and Guy Gibson, former chairman, are challenging bank's takeover.