Regulators tighten grip on two small Georgia banks

Two South Georgia community banks and a former executive of a failed Alpharetta institution were slapped with censures recently by federal regulators, according to a report issued Friday.

Lyons-based Peoples Bank  and the Citizens Bank of Nashville entered separately into consent orders last month with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Consent orders are designed to help banks correct deficiencies and improve operations. The banks neither admitted nor denied any wrongdoing.

Peoples Bank is based in Toombs County, about 100 miles southeast of Macon. The Citizens Bank is based in Berrien County, about 130 miles south of Macon.

The orders, among other things, call for reducing problem loans, reviews and revisions of loan policies, and plans to raise investor capital and maintain capital requirements.

Messages left at both banks were not immediately returned.

Dozens of Georgia banks are under similar orders to improve their operations as they grapple with problem loans and a tepid economic recovery.

Separately, Joseph Todd Foster, a former officer at the failed Alpharetta-based Integrity Bank, consented to an order prohibiting him from working in banking. Foster pleaded guilty in July 2010 to securities fraud for what prosecutors described as insider trading.

Prosecutors said Foster sold 30,000 Integrity shares based on inside information that a major bank customer would likely default. Integrity failed in August 2008.

Foster neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in accepting the FDIC order.

Several former insiders at Integrity, including state Sen. Jack Murphy, R-Cumming, are part of a $70 million-plus lawsuit filed by the FDIC over alleged improper direction of the bank.

The defendants have denied the claims. Foster is not a defendant in that case.