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Criminal Probe at Colonial

Beleaguered Colonial BancGroup Inc. is under now under criminal investigation for possible accounting fraud at its warehouse operation.

The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into accounting irregularities tied to its mortgage warehouse lending division, Colonial announced today.

The investigation follows a review of documents subpoenaed by the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

“The company has been informed that the alleged accounting irregularities relate to more than one year’s audited financial statements and regulatory financial reporting,” according to Colonial, which said it intends to cooperate with investigators. “The company’s board of directors and audit committee are making every effort to determine the impact of these alleged accounting irregularities.”

In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission has subpoenaed the Montgomery, Ala.-based company for its disclosures about TARP and disclosures of its accounting for loan loss reserves, the $25 billion institution said.

On Wednesday, Colonial said TARP agents raided its warehouse lending operation. It was already operating under two cease-and-desist orders and has warned of its potential failure.

Colonial noted in today’s statement that the State Banking Board of the Alabama State Banking Department is scheduled to meet on Aug. 12, “at which time Colonial Bank will be asked to consent to the superintendent’s exercise of his statutory authority to appoint the FDIC as receiver or conservator for the bank if and when the superintendent deems such appointment to be necessary.”

Colonial said it is still exploring “all possible capital-raising alternatives” that will enable it to comply with all requirements of outstanding cease-and-desist orders.

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