Regulators fine former Vineyard Bank CEO Norman Morales
It's not quite up there with former Countrywide boss Angelo Mozilo's $67.5-million settlement, but regulators have fined another former Southland banker for alleged misconduct during the housing boom.
Norman A. Morales, the former president and chief executive of Vineyard National Bank, has agreed to fork over a $25,000 penalty to bank regulators who accused him of having the Corona-based lender pay personal expenses.
He didn't admit or deny wrongdoing in signing the settlement last month, according to the consent order with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
Morales, 50, who lives in Irvine's Shady Canyon neighborhood, couldn't immediately be reached for comment Friday.
The order said he "caused the bank to pay for expensive hand-blown Italian glassware (i.e., flutes, tumblers, stemware, and carafes), which he retained for his personal use. In addition, during 2006 and 2007, [Morales] caused the bank to pay for numerous personal charges incurred by his wife and children at a local golf club."
Morales, who repaid the bank $60,525, was found to have "engaged in unsafe or unsound practices, breached his fiduciary duty to the bank, and engaged in a pattern of misconduct resulting in pecuniary gain or other benefit to himself." He promised to stay clean in the future -- and tell any bank that is considering hiring him about the settlement with regulators.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency let Morales pay on the installment plan -- $5,000 this month and $2,500 quarterly payments over the coming two years.
Vineyard failed in July 2009, brought down by its extensive lending to residential developers and builders, at a cost of $470 million to the federal deposit insurance fund. It was taken over by California Bank & Trust.
Mozilo's settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission last year included a $22.5-million fine that came out of his pocket and repayment to former Countrywide Financial Corp. shareholders of $45 million in what the government said were ill-gotten gains. The latter payment was covered by Bank of America Corp., which had acquired Countrywide.
The SEC’s civil action accused Mozilo and two former top aides of downplaying the dangers of high-risk mortgages that Countrywide wrote for homeowners and sold to investors.
-- E. Scott Reckard