Dwelling House Savings and Loan turned over to PNC Bank

| Saturday, Aug. 15, 2009

Federal regulators on Friday seized Dwelling House Savings and Loan Association, which was hobbled by Internet fraud, and turned the 119-year-old, minority-owned institution in the Hill District over to PNC Bank to operate.

The one-office bank at Centre and Herron avenues will reopen Monday as a PNC branch, said the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The agency acted as the bank's receiver after the Office of Thrift Supervision closed the bank earlier in the day.

Dwelling House's $13.8 million in deposits will revert to PNC during the weekend. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC. PNC declined to say how much it paid for them.

Dwelling House will lose its physical identity, too. Within 90 days, PNC plans to close the bank and move deposits and related business to PNC's branch at 1860 Centre Ave., said spokesman Fred Solomon.

The takeover marks the end of Pittsburgh's only minority-owned bank and comes despite attempts to replace about $1 million in capital that was electronically transferred from Dwelling House by thieves who remain at large. Pittsburgh police and the FBI are investigating the fraud.

"We thought we'd overcome (the deficit) because of all that we put together," said CEO John Haines Jr.

Dwelling House had gotten commitments from Dollar Bank and several local foundations to meet a June 30 deadline imposed by regulators to replace the missing capital.

"But more things were discovered, accounting errors from the past," said Haines, a former Mellon Bank and General Motors Co. executive who joined Dwelling House in January. "They had nothing to do with deposits, but internal accounting."

The accounting issue meant that Dwelling House actually needed to plug more than the $1 million shortfall, Haines said. He could not immediately estimate the new threshold to be met.

PNC agreed to purchase $3 million of Dwelling House's $13.4 million in assets, mostly loans. The FDIC will retain the remaining assets for the time being.

"PNC acted to ensure access to banking services for Dwelling House customers because PNC is committed to the Hill District community," Solomon said.

Dwelling House becomes the first bank in Pennsylvania to fail this year, and the 73rd in the nation, the FDIC said.

The last bank in the Pittsburgh area, as well as the state, to be shuttered was Metropolitan Savings Bank in Lawrenceville in February 2007. It failed mainly because of poor bookkeeping, and its deposits were assumed by Allegheny Valley Bank.

Dwelling House was stung by Internet fraud that siphoned about $3 million of its capital into numerous other institutions since late 2008. The result was that Dwelling House received an order from bank regulators in late May to raise about $1 million by June 30, or risk being closed or merged away.

Six board directors of Dwelling House, including its chairman and a former president, were fined a total of $10,000 in the past week by the Office of Thrift Supervision for failing to adopt anti-money-laundering measures and internal controls, as ordered by the OTS in 2006.

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Customers with questions may call the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. at 1-800-760-3639.

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