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No Bid to Duck Liability, Neil Bush's Lawyer Says

July 20, 1990|RONALD J. OSTROW | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — Spokesmen for Neil Bush said Thursday that the President's son was not trying to reduce personal liability resulting from his role in the failure of a Denver thrift when he listed his wife as owner of a $550,000 home purchased last year.

"I was not even consulted on it regarding any liability and didn't know about it until the last couple of weeks," said James E. Nesland, Bush's lawyer, referring to reports about the Denver house published by newspapers in Colorado.

Both Bush and his wife, Sharon, were listed on the deed of the previous home they sold in 1988 to move to a house that a Bush associate described as "more secure."

A financial planner for the President's son, who asked not to be named, said that listing the house as his wife's asset was for the purpose of "estate equalization." He said it was not intended to shelter Bush from liability resulting from any government, shareholder or depositor suits that may be filed against him for his role as a former director of Silverado Banking, Savings & Loan Assn. in Denver.

Under unified estate tax credit provisions, a taxpayer can transfer to a spouse without tax liability up to $600,000 in a lifetime.

L. William Seidman, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., said a suit is under consideration against the former directors of Silverado alleging that they failed their fiduciary responsibility to protect the financial health of the institution.

Insurance for Silverado's directors and officers to cover such suits was allowed to expire in April, 1986, and the S&L set up its own $15-million indemnification fund. However, after Silverado's failure, the FDIC sued in federal court in Denver to take over the funds being held in escrow. The case is yet to be argued.

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