The 15,000 depositors who lost money in Utah thrifts could have some extra spending money by Christmas if they accept a plan for the state to pay them $100 million. But if Naomi Little has her way, a 100 percent return is the only acceptable settlement.
Little, of Salt Lake City, and her husband, Artemis, are plaintiffs in the civil suit filed against Utah after the state declared the Industrial Loan Guaranty Corp. insolvent.About $106 million in deposits was frozen as the state and thrifts struggled to find a solution. But Little said Saturday the state's offer was not the answer, although a board member of Depositors of Insured Thrifts says the board will recommend the offer be accepted.
"We need 100 percent plus the interest. This has gone on too long and it's not right. The state is in the wrong, and we're going to fight it," Little said, adding, "There isn't one (depositor) I've talked to that is going to settle for less than 100 percent."
The settlement announced Friday night by Gov. Norm Bangerter would put aside claims between the state and depositors, clear the way for legal action against third-party defendants, and get money into the hands of people who have had their funds locked up since July 31, 1986.
To finance the settlement the state would issue a $33 million general obligation bond, and put in $9 million from its Risk Management Fund. The state's liability carriers would contribute $19 million.
The remaining $39 million, recovered through thrift liquidation, has already been distributed to depositors.
The bond would be financed through proceeds from the ongoing liquidation of the thrifts' assets, remaining assets in the ILGC and $2 million left from a $5 million 1986 appropriation to deal with the thrifts.
"The state is at fault all the way down the line. And there's a lot of insurance there they can go after," Little said.
But Sheila Bohard, a board member of Depositors of Insured Thrifts, said the group will recommend depositors accept the state's offer.
"It certainly represents a fair share for the state, it's fair in that we still have the opportunity to go for the remainder of what we're missing through third-party defendants, and we will have the state's assistance to do that," Bohard said.
The state was the "largest chunk of the settlement," Bohard said, and that hurdle must be cleared before going after officers in the thrifts.
Depositors accused former thrift officials and advisers of fraud and racketeering. They contend the state knew the Industrial Loan Guaranty Corp. was close to going broke but did nothing to warn or protect customers in the five institutions.
"It's not over; we'll just be refocusing," said Bohard, who added that depositors will be voting first on whether to accept the settlement and second on whether individuals want to remain in the group covered by the class-action lawsuit.
"There's a possibility the first checks could be sent out at the earliest the first of November and the latest before Christmas," Bohard said. "That is if it goes through the Legislature smoothly, goes through the depositors smoothly, and goes through the courts smoothly."
While depositor F.E. Draper wanted 100 cents on every dollar lost when the thrifts were closed, he said, "It's a relief. I'd take it tomorrow," adding he'll "just put it (the money) in the other bank account."
The depositors group will inform the court on Tuesday of the settlement, and a formal presentation will be made if the Legislature and depositors approve the deal. Bangerter said he plans to call the Legislature into session Aug. 31 to deal with the thrift issue.
"This first distribution will send back somewhere in the neighborhood of 85 percent of their balance," said Bohard. "They need that money desperately, so it will make a difference to them."
The $100 million settlement is $6 million short of depositors' principal and does not include interest or legal fees. DOIT attorneys said their fees, which could range between $10 million and $20 million, would come from claims against the third-part defendants.
About 235 people who lost money in the thrifts have not been contacted, Bohard said.
"The records of the thrifts were so poor that they came to us without any kind of trail," she said. "Any depositors out there who haven't heard from us is because we can't find them."
Depositors not yet contacted should write DOIT, P.O. Box 956, Salt Lake City, UT 84109, drop by the offices at 5320 S. Ninth East, Suite 215, or call 269-9472.