By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
According to her attorney, "Ms. Reibel stated that she typed this in."
But when she was shown a second financial statement from the same period that was given to Valley National Bank, the $4 million loan was missing.
Asked to explain the discrepancy, Reibel said she would have added or deleted the $4 million obligation based upon instructions from Symington or his accountants, Coopers & Lybrand.
Informed that the accounting firm was on the record denying any involvement, Reibel responded, "Then it was the governor."
Shown a financial statement from a year earlier, December 31, 1987, Reibel's attention was called to the line containing the governor's salary of $200,000 from the Symington Company.
Reibel admitted that when she filled out the financial statement, she was in possession of a W-2 showing Symington's salary as less than $200,000 for 1987. Her lawyer's notes say she knew "the numbers were wrong."
She explained this deception saying she was told "by the governor to put this amount down."
Although Reibel acknowledged that she had the paperwork on loans owed by Symington to his mother, Martha, she could not explain why a $300,000 debt to this woman was missing from the governor's 1989 financial statement.
"Ms. Reibel stated that it was not her place to place a note payable on the financial statement. The governor did not tell her to add the notes," claims her lawyer in his memorandum.
Now this is an odd piece of business.
Reibel overlooked a $300,000 Symington debt the governor neglected to include on a financial statement because "it wasn't her place" to question the governor. She also told federal investigators that "her job was typing and that she oftentimes did not even consider what she was typing."
And yet the feds produced management representation letters signed by Reibel, one inked as recently as 1991.
Why was someone who inflated salaries, overlooked $300,000 debts and neglected $4 million obligations signing papers swearing to the accuracy of the very forms she habitually lied on?
The most troubling page of the Reibel memorandum covers "coded" financial statements and multiple financial statements for the same date.
Asked if Symington "coded" his financial statements to identify where the records were going, Reibel at first said she was unaware of any such activity. Then she "clarified" her answer to say that business reports had started to be coded during the gubernatorial campaign. Reibel said the coding was done to trace the origin of leaks about Symington's finances during the election.
This plausible explanation was contradicted by the prosecutors, who told Reibel, "They believe the governor had coded financial statements prior to the campaign."
The significance of the prosecutor's suspicion was underscored when Reibel was then asked if different financial statements existed for the same date. Reibel admitted that, yes, the files contained multiple, and differing, sets of financial statements for the very same date.
This creates the possibility that Symington could have sent contradictory financial statements out to different lending institutions and regulatory bodies, depending upon what he needed to tell whom. Then he kept track of the various versions with a system of codes.
If this happened, it is not marginally unethical. It is highly illegal.
Reibel's explanation for multiple financial statements is not reassuring.
"She stated that whenever a bank needed financial information, she would pull out a financial statement, type it and then the governor would make the necessary changes on it," and "no," Symington never explained why financial statements for the same date were altered. The one time Reibel remembered Symington elaborating "was when he stated that the Mellon Bank did not need information they already had."
Which is a hilarious recollection.
There may be perfectly reasonable explanations for the problems the government's investigators have found in Symington's financial statements.
But prosecutors interviewed the governor before they interviewed Reibel. If Symington's answers had put the matter to rest, you could not tell from the pointed cross-examination of Reibel.
It is clear from the government's interrogation of Reibel, as well as a federal subpoena first disclosed in New Times last October, that the United States Attorney's Office is expanding its probe into allegations of financial fraud aimed at Symington.
Both Symington and his Washington, D.C., attorney, John Dowd, declined comment when contacted last Monday.
@body:The original criminal referral sent to the Justice Department by the RTC focused upon Symington's role in the collapse of Southwest Savings and Loan. He was accused of violating federal guidelines in the S&L's investment in the Esplanade, a project Symington developed and Southwest's largest single loss.
Specifically, Symington, as a board member of Southwest, was accused of bypassing conflict-of-interest regulations when his S&L invested in the governor's own high-rise.
Symington was also charged with failure to obtain a proper appraisal.
In addition to the criminal investigation, the RTC sued Symington and his fellow directors at Southwest for $197 million, citing their negligence as the root cause of the S&L's failure. The governor was personally identified as reaping "millions of dollars in unwarranted revenue."
From the beginning, Symington has said that he is the target of a political witch hunt. The governor has always maintained the troubled Esplanade investment will prove itself if federal regulators will just give the project enough time.