Gov. Richard F. Celeste said it may be "another couple of days" before many of the 70 privately insured Ohio savings and loan associations, closed Friday, begin reopening under an emergency banking bill he signed into law early today.
Celeste told reporters that he does not "want to keep depositors waiting any longer than we have to" but is more concerned about assuring them that their money is safe than rushing to reopen the thrifts.
Associated Press reported tonight that Savings One opened offices in Dresden and Mansfield today under terms of the emergency bill and that Century Savings Bank announced plans to open Thursday in Toledo, Cincinnati, Newark and Columbus.
State regulatory officials said that healthy thrifts gradually would be approved for reopening, probably at a rate of no more than five a day, and that some may never reopen.
A spokesman for the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, which regulates federally insured savings and loans, said 19 Ohio institutions have applied for federal insurance and 20 have said application will be forthcoming.
The board hopes to begin making judgments about the institutions "within a matter of days," the spokesman said, adding that field examiners will audit not only institutions that have applied formally but also those who say they intend to file.
Assets of half-a-million depositors have been frozen since Friday when privately insured thrifts were closed for a "bank holiday" to prevent a run on deposits. Although the new law allows depositors to withdraw as much as $750 a month while the thrifts remain closed, officials said S&Ls would not be prepared to implement this provision for several days because of computer difficulties.
Under the rescue plan, approved unanimously by the Ohio General Assembly, thrifts can reopen only after applying for federal insurance and persuading state regulators that they can qualify for it.
The regulators established application procedures in meetings with S&L representatives as federal insurance officials were sent to thrifts across the state.
Quick audits of the 70 closed institutions last week indicated that as many as 20 or 25 may be too weak to reopen. Federal insurance requires that an institution have net worth in excess of 5 percent of its assets.
Another 20 or 25 are salvageable but need help, while the remaining 25 or 30 probably can qualify for federal insurance based on cursory audits, officials said.
The Federal Reserve Board has promised to lend cash to the reopened thrifts so that any healthy institution can meet withdrawal demands.
The promise of federal cash loans, which must be secured by government securities or mortgages owned by the thrifts, should ease concern among depositors who fear not being able to withdraw their cash.
Celeste flew here today after meeting in his State House office with angry depositors from Home State Savings, a Cincinnati-based institution whose collapse March 9 triggered the crisis.
About 100 more depositors gathered outside his office, carrying placards saying, "If Your Money Is in Home State Don't Count on Buying a Home" and "Is Ohio Going to Be the Only State to Experience a 1980s Depression?"
Lawyers have told Celeste that Home State is not covered by the new law, but he said he believes that a buyer can be found for the troubled institution within 30 days and that depositors can begin to recover their money.
The governor also said that lawyers are preparing suits to recover money "from anyone and everyone" found to be responsible for the collapse of Home State, which closed after suffering huge losses when ESM Government Securities Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., failed.
This apparently includes Home State owner Marvin Warner, Celeste's chief fund-raiser and former U.S. ambassador to Switzerland.
The new law provides for the selection of a special prosecutor to investigate Home State and its ESM investments.
The run on other thrifts began when Home State's losses threatened to exhaust a $136 million private insurance fund protecting the 70 state-chartered thrifts.
The plan was approved by the Senate after two days of intense infighting. Republicans agreed to back the plan only after Democrat Celeste threatened to appear before the General Assembly to attack them for foot-dragging.