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SVB Financial Triumphs Over FDIC in Tax Refund Seizure Case

In a recent ruling, a U.S. bankruptcy judge instructed the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to return $10 million in seized tax refund checks to SVB Financial. This company, now bankrupt, was formerly the parent organization of the failed Silicon Valley Bank.

FDIC logo
FDIC logo

Judge Martin Glenn, based in Manhattan, ruled in favor of SVB Financial in a wider argument involving the FDIC's attempts to recover its costs from the Silicon Valley Bank bailout. The decision effectively prohibits the FDIC from laying claim to prospective tax refunds, which SVB Financial estimates worth $300 million.

FDIC's Attempt to Escrow Funds Thwarted

The FDIC planned to escrow these funds while determining whether they rightfully belonged to the failed bank or its bankrupt parent company. Glenn, however, decreed that the FDIC lacked the authority to seize checks addressed to "SVB Financial" and commanded the FDIC to return the intercepted checks by the end of the week and forward any future tax refund checks to SVB Financial.

The Aftermath of the Silicon Valley Bank Failure

The FDIC took over Silicon Valley Bank on March 10 following a bank run, where depositors hurriedly withdrew their funds. This event also led to the fall of Signature Bank (OTC: SBNY) and resulted in more than a 50% reduction in the market value of numerous U.S. regional lenders.

SVB logo
SVB logo

Impact on SVB Financial's Bankruptcy Proceedings

During the takeover, the FDIC seized approximately $2 billion from SVB Financial's accounts at the bank. This action has hindered SVB Financial's bankruptcy proceeding progress, particularly in selling off remaining assets, such as its venture capital investments.

FDIC's Justification for Holding Seized Funds

The FDIC claims it is legally justified to retain the seized funds while it figures out how much SVB Financial should contribute towards the costs of the bank takeover. The FDIC's estimations suggest that the bank's failure led to a $16 billion loss to its insurance fund.

Dispute Over Tax Agreement

The FDIC proposed that the tax refunds might be owed to the now-seized bank, currently managed by First Citizens BancShares, based on a tax agreement between the bank and its former parent company. However, Judge Glenn ruled that the tax agreement assigned SVB Financial the task of calculating and distributing any refunds due to the bank. This agreement didn't permit the FDIC or the seized bank's new owner to claim any part of the refunds independently.