To the Editor:
I am disappointed by your coverage of Washington First International Bank (in the June 19–25 issue).
Earlier in the year, you published an article titled “Washington First Weathers Storm of Controversy with FDIC List.”
Being on the list is a sign of severe financial distress, yet the article paints a picture that all is well. It even quotes Elizabeth Huang as saying, “Our liquidity is strong,” and that she is positive that WFIB will rebound quickly. It certainly gives one the impression that the situation is not that serious. Instead of serious probing journalism that would benefit your readers, your paper allowed Huang to promote her agenda.
Then your paper ran a recent story titled “After 20 years, Chinese bank forced to close its doors.” In it, it revealed how some investors lost money and how shocked they were that the bank was forced to close. Huang was quoted saying, “Our 21 years of hard work to build the bank and help the community are now gone.”
I feel your story here is totally one-sided. I am a veteran banker with many years of commercial lending experience with some of the largest banks in the country. Banks that go belly up usually do so because they have poor or inadequate risk management. They became greedy with the bull market in real estate and assume it will continue forever. They took risks without regard to the consequences.
Your article, however, made it sound as though the economy was the sole cause for the bank’s troubles. The real estate collapse, of course, had an impact, but banks are supposed to manage their portfolios through changing market conditions. Although we have seen many banks close, the vast majority of banks in this country remain sound and are not on the FDIC list.
You have to ask why? The reason is because they took prudent risks, avoided over concentration of assets, and had proper risk management procedures. WFIB probably didn’t, and your article failed to give a balanced view on the real reasons for the demise of this bank.
— David Grant