Breaking the Banks

Source: Michael Braga and Anthony Cormier, Herald-Tribune, 2013

Almost 70 banks failed in Florida during the last five years.

Most executives say the failures were not their fault. They blame a tanking economy. Or meddling government officials. Or people who borrowed more than they could afford while the market was cooking hot.

But these bankers are wrong.

At least half of Florida’s community banks failed because their leaders were greedy, arrogant, incompetent or sometimes corrupt, a Herald-Tribune investigation found.

The newspaper obtained previously confidential state records that show how failed bankers broke the law, manipulated financial documents and gorged themselves on insider deals. These bank records had never before been collected by an American newspaper.