Financial Corp. of America, the holding company for the nation's largest savings and loan, has resolved accusations of repeatedly violating federal accounting laws, the government said yesterday.
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the settlement with FCA, which neither admitted nor denied allegations that it broke securities laws governing reporting, bookkeeping and internal control procedures.
FCA agreed to submit to an independent investigation to determine if its accounting controls are adequate. It also agreed to have its independent accountants perform quarterly reviews for two years.
"The commission views the accounting relief as something that's very significant," said Juan Marcelino, an SEC attorney and enforcement branch chief.
The complaint was settled in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In the past, most similar cases were the subject of administrative proceedings. The court action underscored the seriousness of the FCA case, said Marcelino.
FCA, based in Irvine, Calif., owns American Savings and Loan Association, the nation's largest savings institution. FCA, which also manages its own real estate portfolio, reported $17.3 billion in deposits and $34 billion in assets.
From 1980 to 1982, FCA violated generally acceptable accounting procedures by listing prematurely income totaling more than $20 million from real estate deals known as "buy-sell" transactions. These loans hid FCA's involvement and financial exposure, the SEC said.
The commission also took issue with FCA's accounting treatment of acquisition, development and construction (ADC) loans from December 1983 to September 1984, also because they were used for premature recognition of revenue.
In addition, FCA failed to maintain adequate reserves to cover losses in its loan and real estate portfolio, the SEC said.
FCA said the settlement ends an investigation that focused mostly on FCA's former management.
William J. Popejoy became chairman of FCA on Aug. 28, 1984, succeeding Charles Knapp, who resigned under pressure from federal regulators two weeks after the SEC forced the company to restate its earnings. The restatement sparked a run on deposits from which the beleaguered financial institution has continued to battle.