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Metropolitan Mortgage


The single iconic image of the collapse of Metropolitan Mortgage was the company’s large white rectangular building on the Spokane skyline. It’s now the Wells Fargo building.

The $2.3 billion collapse of the homegrown Spokane financial conglomerate ranks as the largest business failure in Spokane history.

The bankruptcy begun in February 2004 was marred from the outset by an accounting scandal, a major investigation by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, an FBI inquiry that resulted in the conviction of a senior Metropolitan executive, receivership actions by insurance regulators in three states, numerous lawsuits including an investor class action, arbitration cases and a tangle of claims and insider business dealings.

The millions of dollars spent on high-stakes litigation and experts attempting to unravel Metropolitan’s flawed transactions and financial records unfolded against this backdrop: Most of Metropolitan’s 16,000 investors were older residents living across the Northwest. Many had invested their life’s savings in a company that once claimed its unsecured corporate bonds were as safe as certified deposits from banks.

Summary written by staff writer John Stucke

Key people

  • Maggie Lyons

    Maggie Lyons was appointed by a federal judge to be the administrator of the Metropolitan Creditors Trust during the bankruptcy and after the expulsion of the company’s executives. An accountant and manager, she continues to discover, orchestrate and pursue the financial recoveries for the bondholders and other creditors.

  • C. Paul Sandifur Jr.

    C. Paul Sandifur Jr. is the son of the company’s founder. A colorful and controversial figure in Spokane’s political and business community, investigators determined that his overbearing management style and penchant for questionable business dealings helped spur the company’s collapse. He was forced out of his family’s company, lost his personal fortune, was forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. He was never charged with crimes.

  • Thomas Turner

    Tom Turner worked as a top executive for the Metropolitan family of companies. He was convicted of federal crimes for his role in perpetrating an accounting fraud that deceived auditors and investors.

Latest updates in this topic

  • New settlement in Met suit

    A $38 million settlement proposed Tuesday in the Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Co. class action lawsuit would help several thousand investors recoup some losses from Spokane’s largest business collapse. Investors …

  • Sandifur to pay $150,000 settlement

    C. Paul Sandifur, the former chief executive officer of bankrupt Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Co., will pay $150,000 to refund investors and settle allegations that he improperly paid himself dividends …

  • Met investors to get $45 million

    About $45 million is set to be distributed to investors of Metropolitan Mortgage and Securities Inc. at the end of next week. It will be the second repayment following the …

  • Met trust and accounting firm settle

    The Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Co. investors’ trust has reached a settlement agreement of about $30 million with an accounting firm accused of making mistakes that led to the company’s …

  • Sandifur, SEC settle

    Disgraced Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Co. figure C. Paul Sandifur Jr. will pay about $151,000 to settle allegations that he masterminded fraudulent commercial real estate deals that backfired into an …

  • Met’s Turner gets 2 years

    SEATTLE – A federal judge sentenced former Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Co. executive Thomas Turner to prison for two years, saying that Turner shouldn’t be held solely accountable for the …

  • Sandifur’s lot

    EL CENTRO, Calif. – Less than a dozen miles from the Mexican border, C. Paul Sandifur Jr. is leading a new life. It’s here in a desert town in southernmost …

  • Ex-Met executives accused of fraud in ‘our little Enron’

    Top executives of Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Inc. were accused of fraud Monday, the first federal charges since the company went bankrupt. The actions allege former Metropolitan Chairman and CEO …

  • Investor seeking answers

    Gerry Hanson stands to lose more than $1 million in the Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities fiasco, and he wants some answers. Hanson, who lives in Sparks, Nev., was recovering from …

  • How Met scheme collapsed

    Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Inc. made an offshore investment six years ago that the Internal Revenue Service determined was designed to deprive the U.S. government of millions of tax dollars.

  • Sandifur’s hard landing

    With tears and resignation, C. Paul Sandifur Jr. is losing his family’s legacy.