Northern Trust Pledges to Quickly Repay Bailout Money, Following Criticism Over Parties

Northern Trust bank plans to repay $1.6 billion in federal bailout money as quickly as possible, after fielding criticism for throwing a lavish bash for employees and clients in Los Angeles. 

CEO Frederick Waddell wrote a letter Friday to members of the House Financial Services Committee saying the company takes its responsibility "seriously" and remains "committed to doing the right thing for all constituencies."

Waddell said in light of the recent criticism, "Northern Trust has engaged our regulators with the goal of repaying (the government loan) as quickly as prudently possible." 

Waddell continued to claim that the company did not use any bailout money for the party, part of a sponsorship for a PGA event called the Northern Trust Open, and defended the charitable aspects of the sponsorship. 

"We deeply regret that some of events associated with the Northern Trust Open have distracted from the positive nature of an event that has raised more than $50 million for charity since its inception," he wrote. 

The Web site TMZ originally reported last week that the bank threw lavish parties and dinners for clients and employees in Los Angeles, and hosted concerts featuring Sheryl Crow and other artists. 

Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., along with other panel members, wrote to Waddell last week demanding the company "immediately return" to the government the equivalent of what they "frittered away on these lavish events." 

"Federal taxpayers should not and will not stand for such abuses, and we will insist that any future Treasury support for Northern Trust be conditioned on a thorough reform of your company's policies and practices," they wrote. 

Waddell said in an earlier statement that Northern Trust did not even seek money from the government but "agreed to the government's goal of gaining the participation of all major banks in the United States."