A California savings and loan executive who has feuded for years with the Federal Home Loan Bank Board has filed suit accusing the agency of leaking confidential financial information to discredit him and ruin his business.

In papers filed last week in U.S. District Court here, Charles H. Keating Jr. said bank board officials have tried to silence his criticism of the agency by giving the press sensitive but incomplete data about Lincoln Savings & Loan of Irvine, Calif., a state-chartered, federally insured S&L owned by Keating.

Keating, who is seeking unspecified damages and a restraining order, said bank board officials obtained the information during a federal audit of Lincoln. The officials, in a misuse of their position and violation of federal law, purposely gave details of the audit to news publications, including the Washington business magazine Regardie's, he said.

The bank board, the federal agency that regulates and audits S&Ls, would not comment on the lawsuit yesterday. But, partly in response to the suit, the bank board's new chairman, M. Danny Wall, last week sent out a memo reminding the agency's staff that it is illegal to disclose confidential information about individual S&Ls. Wall took office July 1.

Keating's complaint is the latest in a series of lawsuits filed recently against the bank board by angry executives who say they were treated unfairly by the agency during the 4-year tenure of Edwin J. Gray, who was chairman of the bank board until June 30, when his term expired.

Many of the complaints include charges that the bank board has made it difficult -- often impossible -- to get information that is legally public. The suits have helped feed a growing perception among banking regulators and in Congress that the bank board has been mismanaged and too tightly controlled by S&L lobby groups.

"Private financial data of individuals with whom Lincoln has business relationships has now been exposed to its competitors, its business associates and the public at large -- all in violation of the {bank board's} own regulations and federal statutes which make it a crime to disclose confidential information," Keating says in the suit.

Keating said the leaks were made to stop what he acknowledges was a vocal and widely publicized campaign criticizing bank board policy. The leaks led to an article in the July issue of Regardie's that describes Lincoln as "an S&L on the brink," a description that Keating says is inaccurate and potentially ruinous to his company.

Lincoln's profits last year were $49 million. Its net worth -- which is assets minus liabilities -- is 7 percent of liabilities, more than twice what the bank board requires.

Keating says the leaks were "an illegal attempt to retaliate against Lincoln for its extensive First Amendment activity, including public statements {and} lobbying efforts" against bank board rules that have curbed Lincoln's ability to invest directly in real estate. The bank board has said that it believes direct investments are riskier than indirect ones, where S&Ls make loans to developers and other executives who then invest the money in shopping centers or other properties.

Keating does not name specific bank board officials in the suit and his lawyers say he does not know for sure which federal employes were responsible. The suit names "John Doe" as a defendant, however, to leave open the possibility that present or past officials at the bank board will be named in the future.

Keating in previous court suits has suggested that bank board's policy regarding Lincoln was directed by Gray. In court papers, Keating has said that "Gray has demonstrated personal bias and enmity toward Lincoln and ... Keating." Gray did not return telephone calls yesterday.

Keating's lawyers have met once with the bank board since the suit was filed and are now considering dropping it, although they say nothing is certain. "Because there's a new administration that seems to be considering these issues professionally and seriously, we are considering withdrawing the lawsuit," said attorney Peter Fishbein.

Although Gray and Keating say they have never met, their bitter dispute over how the S&L industry should be regulated has been widely reported. Keating has fought to loosen regulation; Gray to tighten it.