Magazine article American Banker

Motion Hurts Commerce Stock

Magazine article American Banker

Motion Hurts Commerce Stock

Article excerpt

Commerce Bancorp Inc.'s shares fell on Tuesday amid new concerns that the Cherry Hill, N.J., company could face criminal charges related to the pay-to-play Philadelphia municipal finance case.

The fresh round of selling came after a motion filed at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia argued that Commerce's paying of legal fees for Glenn K. Holck and Stephen M. Umbrell, the president and regional vice president of its Pennsylvania banking subsidiary, represented a conflict of interest.

U.S. Attorney Patrick L. Meehan argued in the motion that the conflict stemmed from the fact that Commerce "remains the subject of ongoing criminal and civil investigations."

The disclosure of an ongoing investigation seemed at odds with comments Vernon W. Hill 2d, Commerce's chief executive officer, and Michael Critchley, a lawyer for Commerce, made in a conference call last week.

"The government conducted an investigation. The government concluded an investigation," Mr. Critchley said during the call. "The bank has not been charged with any wrongdoing, nor will it be charged with any wrongdoing."

Lawrence S. Lustberg, a lawyer with Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione PC, who is representing Mr. Umbrell, said there is a difference between the words "subject" and "target" when it comes to such matters. "There is no investigation against Commerce. This motion makes clear that it is not a target."

Mr. Lustberg said he would oppose Mr. …

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