A member of Signature Bank’s board of directors, Judith Huntington, was forced out of her job as president of a New York college in 2019 over a scandal involving millions of dollars in unpaid bills.
When addressing the missed payments, Huntington blamed the school’s controller and its vice president for finance and administration, who have both since been fired, saying they failed to provide her with accurate information on the college’s finances.
The school would fail to pay necessary federal and state payroll taxes over several years, flouting and outright ignoring rules regarding the use of federal grant money, amassing a debt of at least $31.2 million.
The college closed in 2019 after 115 years due to the three years of irregularities.
Huntington, a former Manhattan accountant who had worked at the Upstate school for 15 years, said she had no part in the millions of unpaid funds despite her resignation.
According to the bank’s website, Huntington has been an independent director of the Bank since April 2013. Prior to the bank’s forced takeover, Huntington served on the bank’s examining, risk, and compensation committees.
The bank’s website touts some of Huntington’s accomplishments in the financial sector. In 2019, she was named to the Women Inc.’s Most Influential Corporate Directors List and was inducted into the Business Council of Westchester’s Hall of Fame.
However, just two days after Silicon Valley Bank became the largest bank failure since the 2008 financial crisis, federal regulators announced they were taking control of Signature, citing a ‘crisis of confidence’ in execs’ leadership.
A lawsuit filed by creditors of the now-defunct college in 2021 has claimed that both Huntington and Betty Roberts, another former executive at the college, were aware of the staffers’ actions and still ‘systematically’ mismanaged the school’s finances while failing to carry out their own duties. The complaint demands damages but does not specify how much is sought.
The news comes after both Silicon Valley Bank and Signature failed within days of each other last week, spurring billions of dollars in losses as well as investigations into the collapses to be carried out by the Justice Department and SEC.
The consecutive failures have shaken the financial landscape as well as Americans’ faith in the U.S. banking system, which has already begun to have a ripple effect.
President Biden has since beseeched regulators to look into what led to Signature’s collapse, as is currently being done with Silicon Valley Bank.