Banking regulators ease scrutiny of Las Vegas lender

U.S. banking regulators have eased their scrutiny of a Las Vegas lender that was bleeding millions of dollars during the recession but is now profitable again.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. disclosed today that it terminated a four-year-old consent order against Town & Country Bank, a small, real estate-focused lender with local headquarters on Tropicana Avenue at Durango Drive.

Under the order, the bank was required, among other things, to collect or charge-off soured loans; reduce and more carefully monitor its commercial real estate loan portfolio; and not extend additional credit to struggling borrowers.

The FDIC, which terminated the consent order on May 28, did not say why it yanked the additional oversight. Town & Country CEO Darrel Small did not immediately return a call for comment.

The move, however, comes after the lender turned its financial health around.

Town & Country, owned by West Point Bancorp in Nebraska, lost money throughout the recession, according to FDIC data. It lost $9.4 million in 2009, $9.7 million in 2010, $3.6 million in 2011 and $4.6 million in 2012.

It was not alone. After the economy crashed, banks nationally hemorrhaged cash and collapsed, often because they plowed too much money into doomed real estate deals. In the Las Vegas Valley alone, regulators shut down six locally based lenders from fall 2008 to spring 2011.

But as the economy has improved, so have banks’ financial health.

Town & Country, for instance, posted $4.7 million in profit last year, and it’s off to a good start in 2014. It earned $518,000 in first-quarter profit, up 65 percent from a year earlier.

Overall, the bank has $120 million in assets and four locations. As of March 31, 97 percent of its $82 million loan portfolio was tied up in real estate deals, mostly for commercial properties such as office buildings or strip malls, FDIC records show.