The Office of Thrift Supervision has removed its west region director as a result of an inspector general's investigation into the collapse of IndyMac earlier this year, according to correspondence made public today by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA).
Darrel Dochow was fingered by the OTS inspector general as having approved a backdated capital infusion of $18 million into IndyMac by its holding company to stave off a downgrade in the rating assigned to the bank. A downgrading in its level of capitalization would have triggered additional regulatory restrictions on IndyMac, according to a letter to Grassley from OTS Inspector Eric M. Thorson.
This isn't the first time Dochow has been the regulator involved in a major banking collapse. A generation ago he resisted calls to shut down Charles Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan before its collapse, which became notorious thanks to the Keating Five scandal.
Dochow's approval for the backdating came in early May and was intended to buttress the bank's capital position as of the end of the first quarter, March 31. The plan -- some details of which, Thorson concedes, remain unclear -- was discovered by the inspector general for the FDIC in documents held by IndyMac's auditor, Ernst and Young, and were turned over to Thorson's office.
Thorson's investigation, which is ongoing, found that OTS allowed other thrifts to similarly backdate capital infusions, but the letter provides no additional details about those other cases.
In a separate letter to Thorson responding to the allegations, OTS Director John M. Reich defended his agency's handling of the matter, saying that the backdated capital injection "was a relatively small factor in the events leading to the failure of IndyMac." Reich, however, acknowledged that he had "removed" Dochow as regional director pending completion of the investigation.
Late Update: The Washington Post has more:
Dochow was appointed regional director in September 2007 after serving as the No. 2 in the western region. He was paid $230,000 in 2007, according to government records. Dochow got the job shortly after playing a leading role in persuading Countrywide to move under OTS supervision, a major coup for the agency, which is funded by fees from the companies it oversees.
In the late 1980s, Dochow had been the chief career supervisor of the savings-and-loan industry, and federal investigators later concluded he played a key role in the collapse of Charles Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan by delaying and impeding proper oversight of that thrift's operations.
Dochow was shunted aside in the aftermath and eventually sent to the agency's Seattle office. Several of his former colleagues and superiors have said that he gradually reestablished himself as a credible regulator and again rose in the organization.