CenTrust Savings Bank manipulated fiscal reports to conceal its precarious finances and massive junk-bond holdings, federal regulators charged Tuesday while suspending trading of the troubled thrift's stock.
The week-long stock trading block against Miami-based CenTrust is the first such action by banking officials since 1983 and unleashed speculation the thrift could be the first to sink under the burden of volatile, high-risk junk bonds.The Treasury Department's Office of Thrift Supervision halted trading in CenTrust stock on the American and Midwest stock exchanges at 9 a.m. Tuesday, said spokesman William Fulwider in Washington. The suspension ends at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 30.
The last financial institution to have its stock suspended was Miami's Biscayne Federal Savings and Loan, which was acquired by Citicorp of New York.
Fulwider said the latest action stems from Centrust's Jan. 16 filing of its financial report for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 1989.
``If properly reported, CenTrust would be insolvent,' the thrift office reported in a statement from Washington.
CenTrust is charged with misrepresenting various aspects of its portfolio, including characterizing junk bonds as commercial loans and failing to acknowledge that certain securities were used for investment purposes.
A statement issued by CenTrust claimed that all financial reports conform with generally accepted accounting principles, and said the government's action ``represents a continuation of abusive and highly prejudicial tactics' designed to close CenTrust.
Fulwider would not say if federal regulators would take control of CenTrust, which lost $119 million loss for the year.