SC

Welcome To Corruptville, Certus

IT’S ALL GOOD IN THE HOOD …  Certus Bank should feel right at home in “famously hot” Columbia, South Carolina … Seriously … what better location is there for a financial institution that’s reeling from a major scandal? Columbia is scandal, people … Anyway, we can’t wait to see Certus’ executives…

IT’S ALL GOOD IN THE HOOD … 

Certus Bank should feel right at home in “famously hot” Columbia, South Carolina …

Seriously … what better location is there for a financial institution that’s reeling from a major scandal? Columbia is scandal, people …

Anyway, we can’t wait to see Certus’ executives cut the “virtual” ribbon on their lavish bank branch at the corner of Lady and Main Streets next month … with Da Mayorhood (a.k.a. Columbia mayor Steve Benjamin) and a supplicant press corps lined up to pay homage to this gleaming new facility.

We’re sure The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper will give them a nice advertorial … same with WIS TV 10, which will no doubt feature extensive video coverage of the branch’s glittering, high-tech interior.

Yet while Certus’ branch may look like a high-end Apple store at first glance … behind the bells and whistles is a badly mismanaged institution that is hemorrhaging cash.

“Over the past two years, more than $100 million of equity capital has been erased in the most baseless and irresponsible way – by spending exorbitantly on personal excess masked as corporate expense,” a New York hedge fund manager wrote of Certus in a March 5 letter obtained by American Banker. “This can go on no longer.”

The American Banker story – a brilliant piece of investigative journalism – lays out in meticulous detail how Certus planned to “form a company that would buy failed banks along a corridor of Interstate 85 running from North Carolina through Georgia,” using “abundant government assistance” to make its purchases.

How abundant? According to American Banker, Certus received $241 million from the FDIC from 2009-11 to support its bank purchases.

Thanks to this largesse, the bank had a bright future ahead of it … or so it appeared.

Rather than doing the hard work of turning around these troubled banks, though, Certus executives endeavored to live high on the hog.

How high?

“In August 2012, the bank bought three apartments in Greenville, S.C., for about $500,000 each,” American Banker reports.

The bank then spent “nearly $1 million more in 2012 to improve and decorate the three apartments,” which were used by Certus’ top executives. Among the additions were $24,000 worth of electronics and a $12,000 wine cellar. The bank has also spent exorbitantly on travel for its top brass – $347,000 on private plane flights – as well as a $1 million art collection.

“They laid off employees on Christmas Eve while sipping champagne in their limousines,” one source familiar with the bank’s activities told FITS.

Wow …

Then there are allegations of corruption involving assets bank officials received at dramatically discounted prices – assets which were promptly offered for sale at market value (like a $13,488 Toyota 4Runner that a bank executive purchased from the company for $300).

Add it all up and the bank is facing a rapidly deteriorating financial situation. Last year, Certus racked up $146 million in non-interest expenses – posting an $83 million pretax loss. Two years earlier, Certus’ non-interest expenses were “only” $60 million but it posted pretax income of nearly $100 million.

That’s quite a turnaround …

Bottom line? Think twice before you put your money in this bank …

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27 comments

Patriot Games March 27, 2014 at 6:16 pm

One Plaza tenant Certus, One developer Bob Hughes, Bull St. Bob Hughes, Walter Davis same class as new state Senator Ross Turner….j.L. Mann class of ’82…the spider web of connections is what it is. These are smart guys that worked hard and made the connections and now reap the benefits.

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truthmonger March 28, 2014 at 9:11 am

Kind of like “made men” in the mafia….

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Squishy123 March 27, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Are the executives members of the Amish or Norwegians? You know how ethical and honest those people are when they get put in a position of power.

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shifty henry March 27, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Is there a back story here?

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Squishy123 March 28, 2014 at 11:09 am

Insert any other ethnicity and see how long before someone whips out the race card.

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euwe max March 27, 2014 at 6:45 pm

“the best and the brightest!”

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shifty henry March 27, 2014 at 7:46 pm

Be one of the first 500,000 folks to open an account and get a $ 15 Walmart Gift Card……

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euwe max March 27, 2014 at 8:01 pm

…good for anything in the Manager’s Special Bin next to the blue dumpster – prices marked as is.

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shifty henry March 27, 2014 at 7:44 pm

Will, who are those folks in the photo? What is a ‘CERTUS” – animal, vegetable, or mineral?

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Will Folks aka Sic March 27, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Certus is Latin … it means “settled” or “decided.” Something “definite.”

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euwe max March 27, 2014 at 8:01 pm

you missed “certain!”

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upstate March 27, 2014 at 8:50 pm

they put one of these in Greenville recently, and located it oddly close to the hood…….coincidence…..I think not.

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shifty henry March 27, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Then this one should have been in 5 Points.

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Justme March 27, 2014 at 9:00 pm

I take it this a bank for non white folks

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Squishy123 March 27, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Do they take EBT?

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Justme March 27, 2014 at 9:16 pm

I wonder what the default rate is on loans?

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shifty henry March 27, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Which loans? The ones on the books — or off the books?

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Larry March 27, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Democrats, btw.

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vicupstate March 28, 2014 at 6:46 am

The article says they also supported Lindsey Graham and Johnny Isakson.

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Limbaughsaphatkhunt March 27, 2014 at 11:04 pm

Nice. Lots of racial slurs, innuendo, “code” terms and the like today. Well done FITS readers…McConnel would be proud.

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Mike at the Beach March 28, 2014 at 12:36 am

Racial slurs?

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I see racist people! March 28, 2014 at 9:32 am

He’s crazy, don’t bother.

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Same ol' Same ol' March 28, 2014 at 7:35 am

I didn’t pick up on that when I first read the story. I may have gotten it after thinking about it for a while, nah, don’t really care, takes too much energy. Just another Cola corruption. Are they bankrolling SC State? Thanks for pointing it out.
If the shoe fits…

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I see racist people! March 28, 2014 at 9:31 am

You’re insane.

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Squishy123 March 28, 2014 at 11:08 am

Okay, thank you… now go back to your Kevin Gray blog.

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jimlewisowb March 28, 2014 at 8:53 am

Welcome to Certus Bank

“The one place you can be Certus we are going to steal your money”

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Dark80side April 15, 2014 at 12:12 am

The article above is in error. They did NOT get 241 million taxpayer bailout money! They got 641 million taxpayer bailout money!! GET IT BACK before they blow it all!!!

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