October 12, 2011 / 12:17 AM / 7 years ago

U.S. takes action against execs of failed Calif. bank

SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two former executives of a bank that received a $300 million federal bailout before its collapse during the financial crisis are facing criminal and civil fraud charges for their role in trying to conceal loan losses.

Ebrahim Shabudin and Thomas Yu, the former chief operating officer and first vice president respectively at San Francisco-based United Commercial Bank, face four criminal counts, according to an indictment unveiled on Tuesday.

The bank’s former chief executive, Thomas Wu, faces civil charges from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as do Shabudin and Yu.

UCB, the ninth-largest bank to fail during the financial crisis, catered to California’s Asian community and expanded rapidly before regulators closed it in 2009.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation also said it is seeking to prohibit 10 former UCB officers from further participation in the banking industry. Three additional officers who cooperated in the investigation consented to prohibition orders, it said.

Before his court appearance on Tuesday, Shabudin was led down a hallway in the San Francisco federal courthouse, the last in a line of shackled prisoners. Shabudin was the only detainee in line not wearing a prison jumper.

Yu, who appeared in a suit, was not detained during his court appearance.

Neither Shabudin nor Yu entered a plea before a U.S. magistrate, and each was released on a $500,000 bond.

“This is an ongoing criminal investigation,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Reeves said in court.

Shabudin’s lawyer James Lassart declined to comment after the court hearing. Yu’s lawyer George Cotsirilos Jr. was not immediately available for comment.

The SEC complaint alleges that Wu, Shabudin and Yu concealed loan losses from investors, leading the bank to understate its 2008 operating losses by about $65 million.

Wu was chief executive of UCB from 1998 through September 2009, the SEC lawsuit said. He appeared in a list of 25 notable Chinese-Americans recognized in Forbes Asia magazine in 2008.

“Hundreds of banks failed in the financial crisis, and the regulators need to blame someone,” Wu’s attorney, Steven Bauer, said in a statement. “When the full facts are revealed, Thomas Wu is counting on our justice system to clear his good name.”

United Commercial Bank received a $298.7 million bailout from the U.S. government in November 2008. One year later, regulators shut down the bank and its operations were taken over by East West Bancorp (EWBC.O).

None of the TARP funds have been repaid, according to the indictment. The collapse also led to a $2.5 billion loss to the FDIC fund that backs customer deposits.

The FDIC cited a lack of management oversight as a primary reason for UCB’s failure, according to a 2010 government report.

The indictment charges Shabudin and Yu with conspiracy to commit securities fraud, securities fraud, falsifying corporate books and records, and making false statements to the accountants of a public company.

Shabudin said in court that he currently works as a consultant for Capco, which provides business and technology advice for the financial services industry. Capco spokeswoman Diana Buxton said in an email that Shabudin has been placed on administrative leave, and that the allegations only relate to Shabudin’s former employer.

Yu and Shabudin are scheduled to be arraigned in court on October 20.

Editing by Maureen Bavdek, Steve Orlofsky and Bernard Orr

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