Bailed out U.S. Century Bank funded its founders’ risky real estate

Sergio Pino and U.S. Century Bank headquarters
Miami-based U.S Century Bank received a $50.2 million federal bailout under the TARP program, but according to a ProPublica investigation the bank was hardly deserving of the funds. In fact, it mostly served as an ATM for the group of commercial real estate developers, including Sergio Pino, who founded U.S. Century in 2002.

For 15 consecutive quarters between 2005 and 2008, the bank ranked among the top 2 percent of all U.S. commercial lenders in the portion of its loans that went to directors or officers of the bank. Many of those insiders were commercial real estate developers who used the bank’s money to fund their risky projects. As a result, it comes as little surprise that the bank has now missed more than $4 million worth of repayments to the Treasury Department.

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Now, the bank is under an Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation consent order and is charged with selling much of the real estate backed by its loans. It’s already taken significant losses on some of them, including one on Fisher Island, and will likely never repay the $50.2 million it owes taxpayers. [ProPublica]