US bank says it has cleared $2bn in loans from an online lender that went bankrupt in a US bankruptcy court.
Key points:The US bankruptcy filing was brought on behalf of an American web lender, American Web Loan, by the Department of Justice (DOJ)The DOJ is investigating whether the company was operating illegallyThe DOJ said it was the first time that the DOJ had sought to seize a US company’s assetsIn a statement, the DOJ said: “The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has confirmed that the American Web loan company, American Banker, filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2017.”
It said it is investigating the US bankruptcy case and has requested the Department to take appropriate steps to seize assets from American Bankers bank account and to freeze any proceeds of the liquidation.
“We are deeply concerned by the potential for the sale or transfer of American Bank’s assets to any third party,” the statement said.
“At this time, we are not aware of any such sale or transaction occurring.”
The DOJ declined to say whether it was investigating the company.
It is unclear why the company went bankrupt.
A statement from the DOJ on Tuesday said the investigation was continuing and that it had received “multiple reports” from law enforcement and other government agencies that American Bank had failed to file paperwork for bankruptcy as required under federal law.
The statement said it would cooperate fully with any investigation.
“The Department will be vigorously pursuing all available legal and regulatory avenues to ensure the orderly resolution of this matter,” it said.
The DOJ added that the Department “will not tolerate” “any unauthorized transfer of bank assets”.
The bank had gone into administration in March and had been in liquidation since, although it continued to make loans.
It was one of a handful of US online lending firms that collapsed amid a wave of US government efforts to force internet providers to help tackle US financial crisis.
Last month, a federal judge in Los Angeles ordered the US government to seize American Bank, alleging that the company had engaged in “illegal activity”.
A judge in California ordered the bank to pay $2m in penalties.US officials have charged that American was using its money to buy and sell real estate, a legal loophole that allows banks to buy property in other states, as well as to pay off debts of former US officials.
The company also reportedly provided financial services to a Russian-backed entity that was in charge of the hacking of Democratic Party emails.
The department’s investigation into the US bank is part of a broader investigation into a range of internet companies, including Google and Facebook.
The Department is also looking into whether internet companies such as Google and Microsoft were breaking US anti-money laundering rules by paying bribes to the US justice department.