reported receiving a "follow-up subpoena" from the
Securities and Exchange Commission
in the agency's investigation of possible graft in Philadelphia government.
The bank disclosed the subpoena in an 8K filed Wednesday and said it is cooperating with the agency. Commerce said a routine
exam has produced no new developments.
Commerce has consistently played down the significance of the SEC probe, which it has described as informal. The investigation is ostensibly separate from a scandal that resulted in the indictment of two executives of Commerce's Philadelphia subsidiary bank in an influence-peddling scheme last June.
Federal prosecutors charged that the two bankers were part of a criminal conspiracy to arrange special loans for a former Philadelphia official who in turn awarded lucrative bond underwriting and other banking deals to Commerce. The executives pleaded innocent, and Commerce has denied any wider involvement in the scandal.
Before the indictments, the SEC had opened an information investigation into allegations that Commerce gave campaign donations to public officials in the hopes of securing local government contracts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
But critics of the bank suspected that the corruption charges might prompt the SEC to upgrade its inquiry.
In April 2003, Commerce announced it was suspending its practice of contributing money to New Jersey local and state politicians, after the SEC began looking into the matter. The SEC opened its inquiry after a series of media reports detailing the more than $2.4 million in campaign donations Commerce spread around from 1999 to 2003.
During that time, the bank's Commerce Capital Markets division became a major player in the New Jersey municipal bond market. But in the aftermath of the Philly corruption scandal, Commerce has said it would exit the muni bond business.