Magazine article American Banker


Magazine article American Banker


Article excerpt

Declaring Innocence

For almost a year Commerce Bancorp Inc.'s chairman, Vernon Hill, has said he firmly believes two Commerce employees caught up in a Philadelphia corruption case are innocent.

Now the two employees, Glenn Holck and Stephen Umbrell, are getting their day in court.

The trial of Mr. Holck, the president of the Cherry Hill, N.J., company's Philadelphia banking operations, and Mr. Umbrell, the regional vice president there, began this week. U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan has accused the two of providing favorable loans to a local politician in exchange for business from the city of Philadelphia, including a line of credit.

In their opening statements Tuesday, the attorneys for Mr. Holck and Mr. Umbrell argued that the loans were entirely legal and good business.

"This case is all about taking those little things and making them seem sinister," said Larry Lustberg of Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione PC, who represents Mr. Umbrell, as quoted by Dow Jones.

Kevin Marino, who runs his own law firm in Newark and represents Mr. Holck, said his client declined requests by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to wear a hidden microphone to record conversations with other suspects in the corruption case.

"The moment he said, 'I am not going to help,' it was only a matter of time before an indictment was returned against him," Mr. Marino said, as quoted by Bloomberg News.

When asked during an interview Thursday to comment on the trial, Mr. Hill told American Banker, "I have lots of thoughts, but I'm not giving you any. It's amazing how much attention it has gotten for a very minor part of our whole story, but I guess that's life."

A Lot of Bull

Merrill Lynch & Co. is trying to shed its image as a purveyor of only stocks and bonds.

Starting Sunday, Dollar, its bull mascot, will appear in an advertising campaign designed to convey the message that Merrill is more than just a broker. Dollar will be shown running across a prairie and busting through a glass ticker tape.

The television campaign and related print ads will come two years after Merrill began a quest to get more of its customers' financial business. It is pushing banking as well, and it recently hired the thrift industry veteran Scott Kisting to pump energy into its consumer and small-business services. …

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