Tennis Champ Serves Up A Compliment to Chase

American Banker, September 20, 1999 | Go to article overview
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Tennis Champ Serves Up A Compliment to Chase


Washington People: U.S. Open champion Serena Williams may be a merciless singles opponent, but as Chase Manhattan Corp. president William B. Harrison Jr. found out recently, she's a fabulous doubles partner.

After Ms. Williams defeated Martina Hingis on Sept. 11, Mr. Harrison handed the champ her trophy before a global television audience. Normally, such exchanges are anticlimactic: gray-haired, patrician corporate sponsor hands trophy to buoyant, youthful athlete. Little warmth is swapped.

But Mr. Harrison got the surprise of his life when Ms. Williams spoke up to praise Chase Manhattan for sponsoring a free summer tennis camp for low-income New York City girls.

"It's so exciting to have so many aces, but it's even cooler that Chase donates $50 for every ace to a girls' tennis program," said Ms. Williams, who had 62 aces in the tournament. "It gives me even more motivation to hit more aces."

Chris Lewis' last day as senior adviser to the comptroller of the currency is Friday. He joins San Francisco-based Providian Financial Corp. next week as vice president for federal government and community affairs.

Mr. Lewis will be reunited with a former boss, Konrad S. Alt, who was hired by the embattled credit card issuer in July as senior vice president and chief public policy officer. Mr. Alt had been the comptroller's chief of staff until 1996.

Mr. Alt said that Mr. Lewis, a former Consumer Federation of America lobbyist, will be the company's liaison to national consumer and community groups, which have criticized Providian's fees on its cards.

After five years in the Comptroller's Office he was ready for a change, Mr. Lewis said, and he jumped at the chance to move to the West Coast and work with Mr. Alt. Mr. Lewis said his departure is amicable and denied speculation that he is leaving because of his involvement in a controversy this year over the use of national bank examiners in political activities.

Since January, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm has bashed the Comptroller's Office for enlisting examiners to help the Clinton administration compile a list of bankers who would defend the Community Reinvestment Act.

According to a Senate Banking report released last week, Mr. Lewis asked other OCC officials to help develop a list of at least 10 names, and then they solicited the help of examiners.

When an examiner at a large bank asked whether this was for political reasons, Mr. Lewis responded: "Yes, the request is related to congressional activity. I think we want to generally shoot for the most senior CRA-responsible person in institutions. And, if possible, I think that we want to avoid notice to the bank. I am, personally, not wholly comfortable with the request. But the comptroller would like us to be responsive to the (Treasury) Department request.

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