Included in these failures was that of the National Bank of Guthrie, Oklahoma, which closed its doors on June 13, 1892. It appears that the capital of this bank having become impaired, the Comptroller ordered the deficiency to be made good by an assessment of the stock, or the placing of the bank in voluntary liquidation, as provided by law. A meeting of the stockholders was called and held, and a majority voted to pay the assessment. While under the law it requires a vote of two-thirds of the stock to place a bank in voluntary liquidation, an assessment to make good an impairment of capital may be levied by a majority of the stock represented at the meeting. The president of the bank owned nearly six hundred shares of the capital stock, half of which was hypothecated with the United States National Bank of New York City, and one hundred shares each with two national banks in Kansas City, Mo. One of these banks had loaned an amount equal to the par of this stock, and the other two fifty per cent. of the par value. A large minority of the stockholders, including the United States National Bank, being dissatisfied with the management of the institution and with the course taken at the stockholders' meeting, brought an action in the District Court of Logan County, Oklahoma, for the appointment of a receiver to take charge of the assets of the bank, and upon this petition a receiver was appointed by the Territorial Court in June, 1892.
This petition alleged, among other things, that the president and cashier of the bank had stolen and misappropriated large sums of money of the association and were trying to collect an assessment from the stockholders so that they could personally use fifteen per cent. of the amount collected. It was alleged further that nearly one hundred shares of the stock claimed to be owned by the president never had been paid for, and that at the stockholders' meeting the president voted shares unlawfully, thus controlling the action of the meeting and voting down a motion to place the bank in voluntary liquidation, whereupon the Territorial Court appointed as receiver a man who had been the personal attorney of the president of the bank.
When the Comptroller learned of the movement to have the bank placed in the hands of a receiver appointed by the court, he immediately appointed the national bank examiner for that section receiver and directed him to take charge of the bank. When the examiner arrived at the bank he found the receiver appointed by the court in possession. He demanded in the name of the Comptroller of the Currency that the assets and records of the bank be turned over to him, but his demand was refused on the ground that the depositors and other creditors of the association had been paid in full, and that, therefore, the stockholders alone were interested in the remaining assets and the court had jurisdiction. The national bank examiner, however, insisted upon his right to take possession of the bank and prepared to enforce that right through the courts, when the Court receiver locked up the books and papers of the bank in the vaults and left for the East.
The receiver appointed by the Comptroller never obtained possession of the bank, but the Comptroller never recognized the jurisdiction of the Territorial Court to appoint a receiver and declined to surrender to him the bonds of the bank on deposit with the Treasurer of the United States as security for circulation. These bonds were withdrawn from the Treasury by the Comptroller and sold to the highest bidder, as provided by law, the circulation of the bank was retired with the proceeds, and the excess over circulation was returned to the stockholders of the bank by the Comptroller in the form of a dividend of four and a fraction per cent. In July, 1902, the bank was unanimously voted into voluntary liquidation by its stockholders.
The action of the court in appointing a receiver for this bank recalls to mind a similar incident which occurred in December, 1903.
A press dispatch published in Washington newspapers announced that an application had been made to a State Court for the appointment of a receiver for the Windham County National Bank of Danielson, Conn., and that a hearing had been arranged for the evening of the same day. The Acting Comptroller who was in charge of the office at that time, upon reading this announcement immediately communicated by telephone with the national bank examiner for the district in which the bank was located, instructing him to proceed on the first train to Daniel-son, and if a receiver had been appointed by the State Court to take and hold possession of the bank in the name of the Comptroller of the Currency. The examiner, after traveling all night, reached Danielson the following morning, and upon learning that the court had appointed a receiver the previous evening, went.
immediately to the bank and took possession. The Court receiver arrived in town the evening before, but did not go to the bank until the following morning. When he reached the bank he found the national bank examiner in possession, who, in the meantime, had been appointed receiver by the Acting Comptroller. The Court receiver demanded possession of the bank by virtue of his appointment, but the bank examiner informed him that he was in possession by authority of the Comptroller of the Currency and declined to yield. The Court receiver informed him that he would report the situation to the Court for instructions. The differences between the two factions in the bank, which was the cause of the association being placed in the hands of a receiver, were shortly afterward adjusted and the bank was permitted to resume business on January 15, 1904, after being closed about three weeks, which disposed of the question of jurisdiction in this case.
These two cases were the only instances in which the State or Federal courts had interfered with the Comptroller's statutory prerogative to appoint receivers for active national banks. Petitions or applications had been made to the courts in other cases for the appointment of receivers for banks in which there had been dissentions between directors or dissatisfaction on the part of stockholders with the management, but whenever the Comptroller of the Currency insisted upon the exercise of his authority under the law, the courts recognized his right, but at the same time held that his authority to appoint a receiver was not exclusive, claiming that Courts of Equity were not ousted of their jurisdiction to place a bank in the hands of a receiver in cases where, according to the rules of equity, it may pursue such a course with regard to insolvent corporations generally.