David Lee, the Korean-American doctor who made a fortune buying up properties all over L.A., has been thrown off the board of Premier Business Bank, which he founded six years ago. Lee had been participating in risky business practices, according to federal regulators. The story will be in the Business Journal's Feb. 6 edition (out on Monday).
The FDIC issued the removal order and assessed a $75,000 civil penalty against Lee Dec. 19. Lee denied the allegations but elected not to fight them and stepped down. The order is a rare occurrence for someone of his position in the banking industry, according to industry experts. "The thing that strikes me is he's a principal who's permanently barred from banking," said Gary Findley, president of banking law firm Gary Steven Findley & Associates in Anaheim.
Jim Flanigan profiled Lee several years back in the NYT:
Bargain hunting is an art the doctor has practiced since buying his first office building on Wilshire Boulevard in 1995. Los Angeles was under a cloud at the time in the aftermath of riots in 1992, brush fires in 1993 and an earthquake in 1994. Insurance companies were selling half-empty buildings at knockdown prices, seeing no way the economy would revive. But David Lee knew that a hidden market existed among Korean immigrant entrepreneurs, many of them recent arrivals who had been forced into early retirement in corporate restructurings back home. Lacking a credit rating in America but rich with severance and retirement bonuses, they had cash to pay the rent for office space for businesses to serve the city's fast-growing Korean population, which is pushing 300,000 today, up from 190,000 in 1990.