FDIC sues failed Georgia bank officials for $24 million
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. filed a $24 million lawsuit against former leaders of Alpha Bank & Trust Friday, claiming they caused the Alpharetta, Ga.-based bank to fail by dabbling in risky commercial lending. Alpha was closed by Georgia regulators in October 2008, just 30 months after opening its doors, costing the FDIC insurance fund $214.5 million. The federal complaint names every bank board member as a defendant, including former CEO and President Joseph Briner; former Chief Lending Officer Robert Skeen; and former CFO David Michael Sleeth. The lawsuit, which was filed in the District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, alleges Alpha's board members approved 11 shaky commercial loans that eventually knocked the small bank out of business. The FDIC claims Alpha's leadership approved the risky, CRE loans even though they did not conform to statutory lending limits. In addition, the FDIC alleges Alpha's CRE loans violated loan-to-value ratio guidelines set for the bank and relied on inadequate appraisals and collateral. Commercial loans have been hurting failed banking institutions for years. Real estate data analytics firm Trepp said the five banks that failed in May held a collective $201 million in nonperforming assets, 76% of which were nonperforming CRE loans. Write to Kerri Panchuk.