FDIC Warns Bank Directors and Officers Regarding Copying and Removal of Institution Information

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On March 19, the FDIC issued Financial Institution Letter FIL-14-2012, which warns bank directors and officers that financial institution records belong exclusively to the institution, and supervisory records are the property of the FDIC. As such, directors and officers of failing institutions that make and remove copies of institution and supervisory records for “personal use” in preparing for anticipated litigation or enforcement activity (i) are breaching their fiduciary duty, (ii) are engaging in an unsafe and unsound banking practice, and (iii) may be violating the institution’s information security program. Personal use includes use by directors or officers to defend themselves against administrative, civil, and criminal proceedings or lawsuits based on actions taken in their official capacity. The Financial Institution Letter also reminds outside counsel to financial institutions that their legal and ethical obligations are only to the institution, and not to an institution’s directors or officers. The FDIC threatens bank directors and officers, and outside counsel with legal action for knowing or reckless violations of law or breach of fiduciary duty. In 2011, in a case in which the FDIC sued a law firm for having accepted copies of bank records from a bank prior to its closing to preserve for the defense of bank directors, BuckleySandler prepared an amicus brief for the American Association of Bank Directors asserting the right of bank directors to have free access to bank records that they need to defend themselves against administrative, civil, and criminal proceedings or suits.

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POSTED IN: Banking, Federal Issues

 

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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