Lee

Lee

Hanmi Financial Corp. has seen its share of stumbles in the market of late.
In the past month, the downtown-based bank, which is the second largest Korean American banking company behind Koreatown-based rival Hope Bancorp Inc., with $17.5 billion in assets, has disclosed the sudden departure of one board director and a senior accounting executive.


The departures have come under the cloud of a recent performance review that the institution received from its banking regulator over its track record of lending in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.  


Hanmi has $6.6 billion in assets and 35 branches throughout the United States. About two-thirds of the branches are located in Los Angeles County, with others scattered across Washington, Colorado, Illinois, Texas, Georgia, Virginia, New Jersey and New York.


This past summer, Hanmi was notified by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which insures bank deposits and regulates banking companies, that the bank “needs to improve” its Community Reinvestment Act compliance from the period March 29, 2018, to May 3, 2021.


These ratings are relatively rare. The last known bank locally to receive a “needs to improve” CRA rating from the FDIC came four years ago with the $874 million-in-asset, downtown-based State Bank of India.

 
Only two of 83 banks nationwide that received their CRA evaluation ratings in July were given the rating of “needs to improve” under the 1977 anti-redlining law, according to the list released earlier this month by the FDIC. The CRA is a law intended to encourage insured banks and thrifts to meet local credit needs, including those of low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, consistent with safe and sound operations.


“We were disappointed with the CRA rating given Hanmi Bank’s deep commitment to the diverse communities we serve,” said Bonnie Lee, the bank’s president and chief executive. “While the downgrade is unfortunate, we have a comprehensive plan to mitigate the items identified by the regulators, which we have already begun implementing.”

 
“The rating does not impact our ability to continue to implement our current organic growth efforts, and we will continue striving to help our customers and the communities we serve,” Lee said.


The CRA challenge came on the heels of a second-quarter report that showed improvement in the bank’s profitability over earlier periods when it struggled with business loans more than 90 days late — a problem emblematic of the pandemic. In its latest report, the bank managed down these nonaccrual loans, which declined nearly 30% from the prior quarter.


An update on nonaccrual loans will be given on Oct. 26 when the bank releases its third-quarter report.
A year ago, Patrick Carr was hired as Hanmi’s chief accounting officer, but he resigned effective Oct. 15, ac
cording to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
 
On Oct. 18, the bank hired Joseph Pangrazio as Carr’s replacement. Pangrazio formerly held accounting and financial positions for various financial institutions for a quarter century, most recently as vice president of accounting controls and reporting for Bank of the West in San Francisco.  


In an Oct. 6 filing, Hanmi disclosed that Kiho Choi informed the bank of his retirement from Hanmi’s board effective immediately.


Choi is a director and managing partner of Koreatown-based CKP, the largest Korean American accounting firm in the United States.


Just over two years ago, Lee, who joined Hanmi in 2013 as chief operating officer, replaced Chong Guk “C.G.” Kum, who retired from Hanmi. Lee joined Hanmi as chief operating officer in 2013.

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