A federal grand jury in Tampa, Fla., has subpoenaed records of securities sales by NationsBank and its affiliates as part of an ongoing criminal investigation, according to two subpoenas.
The subpoenas, issued by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida and dated May 8, require Tampa attorney Jonathan Alpert and his firm, Alpert Barker & Calcutt, to turn over all documents received from NationsSecurities and/or NationsBank and Barnett Investments and/or Barnett Bank concerning the sale of securities by the firms.
NationsBank acquired Barnett Bank in January. NationsBank of Charlotte, N.C., then agreed in April to merge with BankAmerica of San Francisco.
The U.S. Attorney, the FBI and other government agencies declined comment.
NationsBank issued a statement May 29 saying the U.S. Attorneys office in Tampa had assured NationsBank that neither NationsBank nor any of its subsidiaries, including Barnett Bank and Barnett Securities as well as NationsSecurities, are targets of any grand jury investigation.
The subpoenas are dated just four days after the SEC, the NASDR and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which charters, regulates and supervises national banks, slapped NationsBank and NationsSecurities with a total of $6.75 million in penalties for illegal sales practices in marketing two risky bond funds in late 1993 and early 1994.
Previously, NationsBank and NationsSecurities had agreed to pay more than $60 million to settle lawsuits and other investigations related to the same funds.
The banks statement does not mention whether any current or former officials of NationsBank are under investigation. As part of the regulators settlement, three managers involved in the sale of securities at NationsBank or its subsidiaries have been suspended from the securities business and fined $35, 000 to $100,000.
The court subpoenas state any questions should be directed to an agent of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The agent, Jonathan Sweat, declined comment.
Alpert says the subpoenas are just the latest episode in an ongoing investigation that began in August 1994.
So far, Alpert has turned over more than 24 boxes of records received from the banks. Although Alpert wont name names, he says: There are documents we have made available to the grand jury which indicate a systemic pattern of deception and deceit at the highest level of this banking organization.
Alpert, whos law firm is now called Alpert Barker & Rodems, for awhile represented former NationsSecurities broker David Cray. Cray claims he communicated with top management at the bank several times about sales practice problems. Soon after sending a June 1994 letter to the firm detailing the problems, Cray was forced out of the firm. An arbitration panel awarded him no damages, but directed the bank to give him his job back. Cray is still suing the bank to enforce that award (see June 98 RR, Page 41).