Ohio-based Fifth Third to pay $6.5M in SEC case

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 4, 2013 at 4:14 pm •  Published: December 4, 2013

CINCINNATI (AP) — A federal agency said Wednesday that Fifth Third Bancorp will pay $6.5 million to settle charges of improper accounting of commercial real estate loans during the financial crisis.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Wednesday the settlement that also includes penalties for the bank's former chief financial officer.

Cincinnati-based Fifth Third said last month it had reached a tentative agreement with SEC staff without admitting or denying the allegations. The bank said Nov. 5 that in connection with the proposed settlement Daniel Poston was replaced as chief financial officer and was named chief strategy and administrative officer. Fifth Third said Poston didn't admit or deny the SEC allegations.

The SEC said Poston must pay $100,000 and is suspended from practicing before the SEC as an accountant. He can apply for reinstatement after one year.

As the real estate market slumped in 2007 and 2008, the number of borrowers failing to repay loans climbed. The SEC said Fifth Third decided to sell some of its problem loans, but continued to classify them as "held for investment" even though they should have been listed as "held for sale." Correct accounting would have increased Fifth Third's pretax loss for its 2008 third quarter by 132 percent, the SEC said.

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