(Reuters) - U.S. federal prosecutors are examining links between lender Regions Financial Corp (RF.N) and an Atlanta-based executive-search firm that entertained the bank’s executives on golf outings to see if federal banking laws were violated, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The southeastern U.S. regional bank has been asked by United States Attorney Joyce White Vance in Birmingham, Alabama, to hand in information about any gifts, trips or vacations provided by Fiderion Group LLC and its Chief Executive James Norton III, according to documents reviewed by the paper, the Journal said.
Prosecutors have also asked the bank for details of any loans made to Fiderion or to CEO Norton, as well as how it accounted for the loans, the Journal reported citing documents and people close to the probe.
Norton had told the paper in 2009 that Fiderion entertained Regions executives on annual golf vacations from 2002 to 2008. <r.reuters.com/xyq22t>
Regions also lent Fiderion $1.9 million in 2009, the Journal said.
Federal law prohibits bank employees from accepting anything of value intended to influence business decisions, the paper said. The law makes exceptions for “reasonable” business lunches and gifts “based on obvious family or personal relationships,” it added.
The bank said in a regulatory filing earlier this month that it has received inquiries and subpoenas from government authorities primarily about accounting matters from 2009 and earlier.
The bank’s board of directors was conducting investigations regarding certain matters raised in the inquiries and subpoenas, it said in the filing.
Representatives for Regions were not available for comment outside normal business hours, as were representatives for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Alabama.
Fiderion Group could not immediately be reached for comment.
Reporting by Sharanya Hrishikesh in Bangalore; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman