Suit Targets Sea Island Loans; Class-Action Status Sought for Legal Action over Statements Made by Synovus Bank

By Jackson, Gordon | The Florida Times Union, July 15, 2009 | Go to article overview

Suit Targets Sea Island Loans; Class-Action Status Sought for Legal Action over Statements Made by Synovus Bank


Jackson, Gordon, The Florida Times Union


Byline: GORDON JACKSON

KINGSLAND - Synovus Financial Corp. released false statements that downplayed risky loans to Sea Island Co., which artificially boosted the value of Synovus' stock until the problems were discovered this year, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of those who bought Synovus securities.

The suit filed July 6 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia asserts bank officials issued "materially false and misleading statements regarding the business and financial results [of Sea Island]" from Jan. 24, 2008, through Jan. 21.

The suit has no lead plaintiff yet, but the law firm that filed the suit is seeking enough investors to make it a class-action matter.

According to a report published in the Atlanta Business Journal on July 7, Synovus was restructuring a $220 million loan to Sea Island Co. Bank officials said they could not comment on the case, but they "strongly disagreed" with the allegations, according to the report.

The loan to Sea Island represents about 5 percent of the bank's capital, according to court documents.

"As we understand it, a shareholder complaint has been filed against Synovus," Merry Tipton, Sea Island's vice president of corporate communications, said in a statement to the Times-Union. "Because our company is not party to the suit, we have nothing to add about the substance of the dispute."

According to the suit, misleading statements by bank officials "artificially inflated" the value of Synovus stock until the problems were revealed earlier this year. …

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