Keating Expresses Regret Over Time Lost to Trial : Court: Lincoln S&L; figure uses a break in proceedings to assert his innocence and blame officials for societal troubles.
If it were up to Charles H. Keating Jr., his trial on state criminal securities fraud charges would go seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
He said he can’t wait for the trial to be over.
“I’m ashamed that I’m spending my final productive years doing this,” he said in casual conversation Monday with reporters while his attorney and prosecutors were huddling in chambers with Superior Court Judge Lance A. Ito.
While sitting in Ito’s court during a recess, Keating talked on a range of subjects from the prosecution of black men to the handling of the Bank of Credit & Commerce International scandal. He spoke in a matter-of-fact tone about authorities in general being more interested in putting people in prison than in helping them.
Then he apologized for sounding as if he were lecturing. His son, he said, had told him that such talk made him sound arrogant.
Since his indictment last September, Keating has been kept under fairly tight wraps by his lawyer, Stephen C. Neal, whom Keating praised as having an “outstanding legal mind.” The outspoken Keating has spoken out only once before, to blast regulators, during that time.
Keating has said that he did nothing wrong in selling his company’s bonds through Southern California branches of the company’s subsidiary, Irvine-based Lincoln Savings & Loan.
He previously said he is sorry that thousands of small investors who bought nearly $200 million in American Continental Corp. bonds at Lincoln branches were wiped out after the Phoenix company filed for bankruptcy and regulators seized the thrift in April, 1989. With an estimated taxpayer cost of $2.6 billion, Lincoln is the nation’s biggest thrift failure.
The collapse launched numerous private, state, federal and congressional investigations. Keating and other American Continental executives face the likelihood of a federal criminal indictment as well as several dozen civil lawsuits stemming from the way they operated Lincoln.
In Ito’s court in Los Angeles, Keating is charged with 20 counts of making false statements and omitting material information in offering his company’s securities for sale to the public through Lincoln. The maximum penalty is 10 years in prison.
To Keating, his situation is the result of his efforts to expose the wrongdoing of federal regulators, to show that their actions, not his, caused the collapse of Lincoln and American Continental and the default in bond payments.
The shame, he submitted, is in society’s apparent inability to deal with wrongdoers, whether it be drug dealers, international banking scoundrels or even federal regulators.
He said that 25% of all black American males are in jail or on parole and that something is wrong with a society that allows that to happen.
In the continuing BCCI scandal, Keating said international authorities first should have pressured the ruler of Abu Dhabi, the bank’s principal owner, to cover any deposit losses before launching public attacks on the worldwide concern.
He contends that Sheik Zayed al-Nahyan would have pledged enough money to make good on what is now believed to be $15 billion in total losses.
Keating’s trial technically began Friday, but jury selection, which begins today, and pretrial motions will delay opening statements until about Labor Day.