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American Marine Bank watched by regulators

American Marine Bank, which has a Sequim branch in the Safeway store at 680 W. Washington St., was placed under tighter oversight by state and federal regulators in November.

But in a prepared statement, the interim president of the Bainbridge Island-based bank assured depositors their money is safe.

In a consent order signed Nov. 4 and released publicly Dec. 28, the bank agreed to continue strengthening its financial condition and improving management and lending policies.

The agreement requires the bank to retain qualified executive management, increase its board of directors participation and responsibility, and increase and maintain capital levels.

The bank also must eliminate all assets classified as "loss," reduce substandard assets and improve lending and collections policies and liquidity.

The order means changes in the bank's senior management must be approved by regulators, plans must be developed to purge bad loans from the bank's books and reliance on certain loan categories, such as commercial real estate, must be reduced.

The bank also can't

pay cash dividends to share-holders without regulator approval.

"It's important to remember that deposit accounts are unaffected by the order," chief financial officer and interim president Renzo Lucioni said in the statement.

"Your deposits are safe as long as they fall within the FDIC guidelines and since the inception of the FDIC in 1933, no one has ever lost a penny of insured deposits.

"We'd like to assure our deposit customers that our commitment to service has not changed. If you are happy with the service and the people you work with at our branches, our challenges should not affect you."

Individual depositors are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation up to $250,000 through Dec. 31, 2013, when the amount returns to $100,000.

Non-interest-bearing transaction accounts and interest-bearing accounts that cannot earn more than 0.50 percent interest are fully guaranteed by the FDIC regardless of amount under the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program through June 30, 2010.

American Marine Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of AMB Financial Services Corporation.

Established in 1948, the company has a home loan center and 11 branches in Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap and Mason counties as well as downtown Seattle.

Its Sequim branch opened in November 2004 and its Port Angeles branch opened in December 2004.

Reach Brian Gawley at bgawley@sequimgazette.com.

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