With the comptroller of the currency's report on his finances due to be released at noon today, Bert Lance said yesterday he was confident he will be cleared of any wrongdoing.
The budget director, in an interview yesterday with ABC News, said, "I have not done anything improper and I'm sure that's what the findings will be - and I think that's the way it has to be approached."
The investigation was ordered by Comptroller of the Currency John Heimann after published reports raised questions about the terms of loans to Lance that enabled him to buy an interest in the National Bank of Georgia.
Heimann, who was sworn in as comptroller on July 24, ordered the Lance probe the next day and soon broadened the initial investigation.
It dealt both with the operations of NBC and with Calhoun (Ga.), First National Bank, where Lance also had been chairman. Lance became chairman of NBG in January, 1975, and remained with the bank until last January when he joined the Carter administration as director of the Office of Management and Budget.
The comptroller's report will be presented to the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which unanimously endorsed Lance's nomination last January and gave him another vote of confidence last month.
The committee announced yesterday that it would schedule a hearing on the report to be held soon after Congress returns from its recess on Sept. 7.
Meanwhile, Rep. Fernand J. St Germain (D-R.I.), chairman of the House Financial Institutions Subcommittee, said that his panel would also review the Lance investigation in September.
St Germain said his subcommittee was preparing legislation to "upgrade the supervision of banks at the federal level" even before Lance's problems became known. The legislation, to be introduced next month, deals with insider lending by bankers, conflicts of interest, and changes in bank control, among other things.
Two weeks ago, St Germain introduced legislation to tighten regulation of changes of ownership of banks. He said that hearings on the bill "will take note of the questions raised in the Lance investigation."
On the Senate side, the Banking Committee will review the comptroller's report and decide whether hearings will be held.
At the White House yesterday, there was a growing sense of confidence that Lance will survive the investigation and publicity to remain as OMB director. Presidential aides insisted that they had not seen the comptroller's report. But they also said they do not expect the report to contain damaging new information.
Lance's longtime associates from Georgia in the White House have closed ranks around him in recent days, strongly indicating to reporters that they do not want or expect the OMB chief to resign. There were suggestions yesterday that, if the report goes the way the White House expects it will, President Carter could return to Washington from Camp David, Md., for a personnal show or support for Lance.
One of the lance loans under scrutiny by the comptroller is $3.4 million from First National Bank of Chicago. The loan, made in January just before Lance came to Washington, allowed Lance to buy a total of 200,000 shares of NBG stock. The stock was pledged as the major collateral for the loan.
Recently, NBG was forced to drop its annual dividend because it had to write off $2.8 million of uncollectable loans. The price of NBG stock dropped to as low as $8.50 per share, about one-half the price Lance paid.
According to a report by Lance's trustee, who has handled his finances since Lance joined the government, First Chicago bank demanded that Lance sharply increase his collateral on the loan. Lance had to put up securities and real estate to cover the bank's demands.