The chief executive officer of the Federal Asset Disposition Association has been forced to resign as CEO but will retain her $250,000-a-year salary and her title as president of the government-owned corporation.
The resignation of Roslyn Payne was announced yesterday by Federal Home Loan Bank Board Chairman M. Danny Wall during congressional hearings into allegations of mismanagement and potential conflicts of interest at FADA.
The bank board, the federal agency that regulates the savings and loan industry, created FADA in late 1985 as a quasi-government company to manage and sell the billions of dollars in land, shopping centers, condominiums and other property that the bank board has inherited from failed savings and loans.
House Banking Committee Chairman Fernand J. St Germain (D-R.I.), who called yesterday's hearings, said Payne's departure as CEO was a good first step toward revamping FADA, which he criticized for operating as though it is "accountable only to FADA" and not to Congress.
But St Germain and other lawmakers said that because Payne will stay on as president of FADA, her resignation is more like political window-dressing than substantive change. "It's like saying I'm not going to be a cow but I'll continue to moo and give milk," said Rep. Stan Parris (R-Va.). "That's just stupid."
Congressmen criticized FADA for failing to answer congressional inquiries quickly and completely. They questioned the bank board's policy of letting FADA operate outside government limits on pay and travel expenses, a policy that enables FADA officials to draw six-figure salaries and travel in lavish style.
Wall said the bank board will review FADA operations, including pay and travel policies, and will ensure that its officials know they answer to the bank board. Wall said the bank board also would advise Congress on how FADA can be made to comply with public disclosure laws. FADA insists the disclosure laws do not apply to it.
For months, FADA has been the target of criticism by real estate developers who say they have been unfairly denied information on how to bid on properties FADA manages. St Germain and other congressmen have said their investigations suggest possible conflicts of interest at FADA, and, in many cases, mismanagement of properties entrusted to the agency on behalf of taxpayers.
Yesterday, St Germain criticized FADA for hiring a law firm that used private detectives to investigate a New Jersey real estate executive who is publicly critical of the FADA. "This man was treated as though we are in a police state," St Germain said. "I don't think the bank board ... or FADA should operate as though we are in a police state."
St Germain asked the bank board for a list of other people who have been investigated on behalf of FADA.
Rep. Frank Annunzio (D-Ill.) said that Payne had not returned his telephone calls. "It's easier to get information out of the Kremlin than out of FADA," he said, adding that potential buyers of FADA properties "have a better chance of contacting Greta Garbo than Roslyn Payne."
St Germain also questioned Wall about FADA director Emmit Cashin III, who is a long-time business partner of Roslyn Payne's husband, Lisle W. Payne. Cashin is president of Fox and Carscadon, one of the largest real estate firms in California.
Minutes of a FADA board of directors meeting last year show Cashin abstained from voting on whether to hire Payne because "her husband is a business partner of Mr. Cashin." But St Germain said Cashin's connection to Payne still raised serious questions. Cashin resigned as director several months ago.
The minutes also show that two staff members of the U.S. League of Savings Institutions, the largest lobby group for savings and loans, attended the meeting even though the public was not allowed to attend.
FADA and the bank board have been criticized for being too closely tied to the U.S. League. That close association has been blamed in part for widespread mismanagement in the S&L industry.