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FDIC: Was IndyMac A Problem Or NOT?

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First we were told that IndyMac was not on the FDIC's list of problem banks. That raised eyebrows. How could it not be on that list?

Then we were told it was on the list after all. What?

John Bovenzi, FDIC COO who's been installed as the new IndyMac BankCEO. Bovenzi said Sunday that, "IndyMac was not on the list of potential problem banks at the time it was closed." However, by Monday, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair told our Melissa Lee that, in fact, IndyMac went on the troubled bank list "in early June."

This list is released publicly four times a year. It never names the banks on it, just reports a number. The list without IndyMac was for the quarter ending March 31st and was the last list to be publicly reported. The list with IndyMac hasn't been made public yet, for the quarter ending June 30th. Still, Bovenzi said IndyMac was not on the list "at the time it was closed," when apparently it was. I guess it depends on which list your consider current.

Confused? I called David Barr, who has been handling press in the IndyMac matter to ask, "Why the discrepancy?"

He says both Bovenzi and Bair are right. Bovenzi was intentionally working off the March 31st numbers, because they are "the last publicly available." As for the new information from Sheila Bair, he says, "If the Chairman wants to update June figures before they're out, that's her prerogative." He adds, "She can do it, but she's about the only one who can do it." Meaning Bovenzi as COO isn't high enough in the power structure to release unpublished information.

Now I'm intrigued about this new list, which Barr says won't be made public until late August. How many banks are on it? Our Steve Liesman reports that Bair says the list will be longer than 90 banks. How much longer, we'll have to wait to find out.

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