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
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. 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.
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.