Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Mary Kiffmeyer's banking problems

Otsego bank cited for unsound practices

Headlines like this seem to be the rule and not the exception. The story is an interesting one. A local bank that puts Bible phrases on its banking billboard and mixes Christian faith and money.
Riverview Community Bank, an Otsego bank that bet heavily on real estate and was known for mixing Christian faith with finance, has been ordered by federal regulators to clean up its lending practices.
A quick search informs us that this bank is actually owned by former Secretary of State, and current State Representative Mary Kiffmeyer. In fact, Kiffmeyer is not only a director of the Riverview Community Bank, she's the owner.

"Integrity Counts"

Politicians use catchy little phrases like this to define themselves as candidates. Unfortunately for State Representative Mary Kiffmeyer, our former Secretary of State, her catch phrase carries little weight.

Among the many things Kiffmeyer believes in is "limited government". Certainly Kiffmeyer and her "limited government" friends are steaming at the fact that the FDIC had to step in to keep her bank solvent.

So, in light of all the banking industry problems and the foreclosure crisis which is even more problematic in NW Wright County (Otsego, St Michael, Albertville area) I find it disturbing that Kiffmeyer and her bank are, well...dab smack in the middle of all this.

Wright County recently had 23 pages of foreclosures in our local paper.

As the owner and a director of the Riverview Community Bank, Kiffmeyer allowed problematic lending to occur to such a level that the FDIC had to step in?

How can Kiffmeyer effectively represent the people of HD 16B when she can't even run her own business?

A trusted conservative?

There have been rumors out there that Kiffmeyer may be a Lt. Governor or even Governor candidate in 2010.

If find a significant amount of humor in pondering this.

Who would Minnesotans trust with their money? The conservative depiction of a "tax and spend" liberal or an incompetent bank owner?


taxpaying liberal said...

I hope you will forgive the long post.

What this story is about is much more than just another Bank failure. This is also a story about separation of church and state, marketing and manipulation using religion, abuse of power, possible ethics violations and using public office to advance private gains.

We should start with the bank president Chuck Ripka.

From the NY Times; “The bank made news when it was founded in 2003 after founder Chuck Ripka said he heard the voice of God say, “Chuck, if you do all the things I told you to do, I promise you I will take care of the bottom line.”
The NY Times did a story on Chuck back in 2004. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/31/magazine/31FAITH.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1
“ Chuck Ripka is a moneylender -- that is to say, a mortgage banker -- and his institution, the Riverview Community Bank in Otsego, Minn., is a way station for Christ. When he's not approving mortgages, or rather especially when he is, Ripka lays his hands on customers and colleagues, bows his head and prays: ''Lord, I pray that you will bring Matt and Jaimie the best buyer for their house so that they have the money to purchase the new home they feel called to. And I pray, Lord, that you grant me the wisdom to give them the best advice to meet their financial needs.''
Chuck claims that 77 people have been converted in his bank and 70 faith healings have also occurred there.
70 “physical healings” had occurred Ripka told the Pioneer Press in 2004 that 77 people had “invited Christ into their lives”
Take the case of poor Matt and Jaimie. Do you think they felt pressure to prove their spirituality in order to get their loan? I have no problem with businessman Chuck only lending to people he feels comfortable with. But when he does it through a FDIC insured bank that is a different matter. Because that FDIC insurance is provided by the Government.
“The 5 most dangerous words in the English language are; Separation of church and state” Mary Kiffmeyer, owner of Riverview bank, Former Mn. Secretary of State, St Representative district 16b.
From the NYtimes;
“In that time,(2003-2006) deposits have jumped from $5 million to more than $75 million. The phone rings; it's a woman from Minneapolis who has $1.5 million in savings and wants to transfer it here. ''I heard about the Christian bank,'' she tells Ripka, ''and I said, 'That's where I want my money.''' Because of people like her, Riverview is one of the fastest growing start-up banks in the state,”
Of the 1.5 million that woman deposited in Riverview only 1/6 was insured by the FDIC. If this bank goes into receivership a lifetime of savings will be lost.
The FDIC accused her bank of “operating with a board of directors that has failed to provide adequate supervision over and direction to the management of the Bank, engaging in hazardous lending and lax collection practices, operating with excessive loan losses and with an excessive level of adversely classified loans or assets, operating with inadequate liquidity in light of the Bank’s asset and liability mix and operating with an inadequate risk rating and loan review system”
The Riverview bank now has 30 to 60 days to revamp its banking practices.
Some questions need to be asked;
How heavily did a person’s faith weigh on the balance sheet when they were in consideration for a loan?
What qualifications did Mary Kiffmeyer have for being a Board member and Director of this Bank?
Was there a conflict of interest in having an acting Secretary of State becoming a Bank owner, Director and Board member?
How much will the taxpayers be expected to chip in to bailout Mary’s bank?
Was Chuck not listening to God’s advice or were the banking practices of Riverview a problem that even God couldn’t handle?

Byshguy said...

Separation of church and state...are you kidding me Mr. Taxpayer?

Anyway, interesting post Hal, but talk about kicking someone when they're down. Lots of banks made lots of bad loans, why single out this one...Oh wait, the bank is run by a Republican.

Alec said...

Shy Guy,
Yes, lots of banks went down the tubes, but none of those had Our Lord Jesus Christ as their benefactor! From the language of the owners I would assume that God might have even been a minority owner. the only problem with that would be that Kiffmeyer hates anything with "minority" associated with it.

So, this is different, we have the founder of a white supremacist group, Minnesota Majority, starting a bank that is backed by the Lord.

Jesus always said bankers will inherit the earth. Add in a good dose of hate for minorities and you got yourself a great business model!

eric zaetsch said...

I had this mental image - Chuck, who I have never seen but can imagine - in his office with melamine faux-wood paneling walling, having to approve a loan.

He holds the papers up close to the plaster Jesus-on-a-cross on his wall [made in China], and if the papers catch fire, no loan, if no fire the loan goes through, Jesus using mental channels to set the processing fees and charges, no fire needed for that; and Chuck's done his job.

TaxpayingLiberal - I like my version as much as the true one, although I admit the truth is more of a hoot than imaginings.

If the devil's not in Chuck's details, she probably is at his corresponding bank, goading the examiners to mischief against Him and His bank.

taxpaying liberal said...

I love it Eric! How many shekels does a good house cost?

It's also the 77 "healing's" I'd like to know more about.

Who did the healing? A teller or did you have to go to a loan officer for one? Could you get one at the drive up teller. "I'd like to deposit this check and my gout is acting up again."

I also noticed that the Elk River Bank is doing ok. Seems rather odd considering that nobody has been cured of an incurable illness in their lobby. Maybe that's because they didn't learn how to bank from Leviticus.

eric zaetsch said...

TPL- Perhaps they are using the term "healings" as a euphimism for "foreclosures." They heal the situation, the property is not merely relisted, but reborn.

They might consider refiling as a nonprofit, given that it looks as if it is one even while a bank, and rename themselves The First Church of the Immaculate Townhomes and Rentals, something like that.

This bank fits the fairly new joke that is circulating, if you buy a toaster they'll give you a free bank with it.

Joking aside, this kind of religion and credit mixing, it makes no sense unless you buy into the Mac Hammond school of prosperity theology. Otherwise you can be true to your faith and laid off and overextended on the credit card accounts at the same time. That's the reality these "innovative and well motivated people" seem confused about. They tell of the healings, not posting the sheriff's bonds to assure the post-foreclosure evictions after homestead holdover time's exhausted. Chuck and Mary must have a thick, heavy rug, to sweep all that under.