City finance hire banned from banking

COVINGTON — The city of Covington's new finance coordinator was banned from banking by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 2006.

Randy C. Conner entered into a stipulation and consent order prohibiting his participation in the conduct of affairs or voting rights in any insured institution without prior written approval of the FDIC. He also agreed to pay a civil monetary penalty of $10,000.

According to the enforcement order obtained through the FDIC's Web site, the sanction involved Conner's conduct while employed with The Community Bank of Loganville.

Because Conner entered into a consent order and waived his right to an administrative hearing, the case file is not public record, according to an FDIC spokesman.

"I can only say that this type of event is a very serious enforcement action by the FDIC," said spokesman Greg Hernandez.

According to FDIC regulations, "any institution-affiliated party who has violated any law, any order to cease and desist, any condition imposed in writing, or engaged or participated in any unsafe or unsound banking practice may be removed from his/her employment at a banking organization and prohibited from being involved in the affairs of any insured banking organization without prior regulatory approval."

The enforcement order states that the FDIC had reason to believe that Conner recklessly engaged or participated in unsafe or unsound banking practices and/or breaches of fiduciary duty; caused the bank to suffer financial loss or other damage, potentially prejudicing the interests of the bank's depositors; and/or received financial gain or other benefit; and the unsafe or unsound banking practices or breach of fiduciary duty involved personal dishonesty or demonstrated willful and continuing disregard for the safety or soundness of the bank.

Conner waived his right to a hearing and signed the consent order without admitting or denying any of those charges.

Covington Personnel Director Ronnie Cowan said Conner disclosed the information when he applied for the position of finance coordinator/grantwriter.

"I discussed this with the city attorney, and we felt this was not a matter prohibiting him from being hired by us," Cowan said.

"If he'd done something really bad, the FDIC would have gone after him criminally," he added.

The city's background check of Conner found that his criminal records, employment verification, education, driving record and references were all good, Cowan said.

Conner was employed as senior vice president at The Community Bank in Loganville from 2000 to 2003, where he managed the bank's five largest customers; wrote the bank's commercial and consumer loan policy; and wrote budgets, proposals and loan requests for presentation to the senior loan committee, according to employment information he supplied to the city of Covington.

At the time the consent order was issued, he was employed at another bank. In a summary of his employment history supplied to the city, he stated that he left The Community Bank due to "a personal conflict with the bank president."

Conner said that he was limited in what he could divulge about his employment at The Community Bank due to the requirements of the consent order. However, he would say that he had a business partnership with a customer of The Community Bank, and in accordance with FDIC regulations, he let his supervisor know about the partnership. But the FDIC determined that he should have notified the bank's board of directors, as well, he said.

"It wasn't that I did anything illegal, immoral or shady in any way," he said, adding that, "Nothing I did involved any transactions or loans at the bank."

Conner said that while the language in the enforcement order is harsh, in his case, it applied to a breach of fiduciary duty, which he said is open to interpretation by the FDIC.

"No money was lost in any way, or in danger of being lost," he said, adding that the language in the order is "boilerplate."

"It does hurt your reputation. You wonder about some of the language they use, how harsh it is," he said.

Hernandez said, "That is standard language used in consent orders. There are various infractions that can be cited against an institution or individual. These were the ones that specifically pertained to Mr. Conner at the time the consent order was issued."

Conner said he opted to settle the matter due to the cost of fighting the charges in court and the fact that he was already planning to retire from banking.

Conner has worked for the city since December. Cowan said that Conner was superior to the other candidates who applied for the job of finance coordinator. Cowan previously told the Citizen the city received 70 applications, with 11 applicants having the financial experience necessary.

"He's been in the community a long time and he seemed to know all the players ... There's not really a learning curve for him and there's a lot of value in those things. There were prominent people who told me he was a good person. It happened three and a half years ago. How far back are you going to hold something against somebody?"

Cowan said Conner will primarily be responsible for writing grant proposals initially and will eventually have more responsibilities dealing with city finances.

"He seems to be really hard-working. He's got 15 to 20 grant proposals in the works during the time he's been here," Cowan said.

According to the city's job description, the finance coordinator's duties include: researching new government and private funding prospects; preparing grant applications; maintaining records on all capital assets of the city; planning, organizing and reviewing results of cash management, billing and data processing; coordinating collections through the finance director; reconciling general ledger and subsidiary ledger accounts and cash accounts; reviewing transactions pertaining to utility billing; providing information necessary for collection of delinquent utility accounts; and reviewing billing for correctness and accuracy and refiguring bills that have been issued to customers improperly.