President Carter's trustee, Charles Kirbo, yesterday acknowledged that the Carter Warehouse records "reflect there were delays" in repaying a National Bank of Georgia loan in 1975 and 1976.
But Kirbo, in a press release, said the records "do not support allegations made in The Washington Post article" published Sunday concerning the Carter family business.
The Post quoted a former bonded warehouseman for the Carter warehouse as saying the operation fell as much as $500,000 behind in loan repayments to NBG in the spring of 1976.
The warehouseman, Jimmy Hayes, in a series of interviews with The Post, described a scheme to conceal the deficit.
Hayes said he and Billy Carter, who was running the warehouse at the time, repeatedly altered records and pledged the same collateral twice in the spring of 1976.
Hayes subsequently denied making the remarks.
Collateral Control Corp., an independent company, (then known as New York Terminal Co.) employed Hayes from July 1975 to July 1976 to oversee the warehoused peanuts that served as collateral on the NBG loan.
CCC Chairman Walter Richey said yesterday in a telephone interview that he had reviwed his St. Paul, Minn., firm's records in light of The Post article.
Hayes had been quoted as saying, among other things, that he had erased the original dates on a number of records releasing peanuts from the warehouse for shelling and processing. He said the bank was supposed to be paid $50,000 each time any peanuts left the warehouse.
Asked if he had reviewed any waregouse releases, Richey said that he had.
Asked if he had looked for any erasures, Richey said that he had done that, too.
Asked if he had found any, Richey responded, "I wouldn't want to comment on whether erasures were found."
Richey did say, gowever, that "there was some delay in the processing of paperwork from time to time" at the warehouse.
Heyes had said he and Billy Carter had released some $500,000 worth of peanuts from the warehouse without making any immediate payments to the National Bank of Georgia, as required under the loan agreement.
Asked if reporters could have access to CCC's recoords, Richey declined. "There records, are strictly confidential," he said. "I have not been authorized by Mr. Kirbo to reveal anything in our records."
He said, however, that he had approved the opening paragraph of Kirbo's statement which said that a check of Collateral Control's records turned up "nothing which supports any of the allegations made by The Washington Post."
Questions about the Carter warehouse loan raised during the current federal grand jury investigation in Atlanta of the banking affairs of former budget director Bert Lance.
Lance arranged for the Carter warehouse loan soon after he became president of NBG in January 1975. As much as $3.7 million was borrowed on the credit line in 1976, and it became NBG's largest loan outstanding.
In his press release, Kirbo, who became President Carter's trustee in the waregouse in January 1977, said "delays in billing and collecting accounts receivable and transmitting the checks to NBG" had induced the bank to seek outside help in collections.
At the bank's request, Walter E. Heller & Co. was hired by the warehouse in August 1976, "to finance the accounts receivable of peanut sales and expedite collection and payment."
That occurred, Hayes told The Post, only one month after he quit his warehouse job in part because of pressures he felt as a result of being behind on the NBG loan.
A former Walter Heller employe familiar with the loan said that company had been brought in vecause of "strains" on the Carter warehouse's finances.
Linksey Hopkins III, an outside NBG director who took part in an audit of the bank's financial dealings to settle a federal suit, said he reviewed all the internal memos throughout the history of the NBG loan to the Carter warehouse.
But Hopkins said he found no indication in bank records that the Carter warehouse was behind in its repayments in 1976. "I read the memos all the way through the history of the loan," he said.
Told of Kirbo's press release acknowledging that "there were delays" in repaying the NBG loan, Hopkins expressed surprise.
"There's no mention of any of this in the [NBG] files, which I find interesting," Hopkins said.
In another development, Common Cause, the public issue lobbying group, called for Attorney General Griffin B. Bell to appoint a special prosecutor "to handle the cases arising out of the National Bank of Georgia's relationship with the Carter warehouse."