In a lawsuit filed last week, the relatives of Mable Amos, a former Alabama Secretary of State, alleged that Regions Bank and its former chief trust officer schemed to improperly charge the Amos trust exorbitant fees after oil was discovered on land in the trust.
The lawsuit alleges that Regions Bank began charging significantly increased fees in 2011 – a year after oil was discovered on the property. The fees jumped from less than $8,000 in 2010 to more than $90,000 in 2011.
The lawsuit also alleges that board members overseeing the trust improperly benefited from its scholarship program, with “multiple” board members’ children being awarded scholarships. That includes Alabama Ethics Commission executive director Tom Albritton, according to the Lagniappe Mobile, which reported that Albritton’s daughter and son received $120,000 from the Mable Amos Memorial Trust to attend the University of Texas.
Albritton serves as one of three board members for the trust, along with Regions’ chief trust officer, John Bell, who is named in the lawsuit, and Rick Clifton, who is Albritton’s former law partner. Albritton’s law firm was responsible for establishing the trust, according to Lagniappe.
In a statement to Lagniappe, a Regions spokesperson declined to answer specific questions about the trust management process, but did offer a defense of Regions’ charges.
“Regions’ fee is less than 1 percent of the market value of the assets under management, and that is consistent with our standard rates and competitive with industry rates,” Regions VP for communications Jennifer Elmore said. “This covers an extensive amount of administrative and fiduciary work provided by our team year-round. Regarding public information related to the fund, documents are made available through the IRS and the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.”