Norman Dansker, the New York City businessman who was convicted of bribery in 1975, has been replaced as the top investor in the group that wants to buy the Permanent Savings Bank.
While Dansker will continue to have a financial interest in the group that has been trying to buy the Niagara Falls bank since last November, New York City lawyer Milton Shapiro has taken over the role as the top investor.
Under the reshuffling plan, Shapiro, rather than Dansker, will have the authority to appoint directors to the Permanent's board. Dansker would not have any direct authority over the bank's operations, said Claire Sykes, a spokeswoman for the state Banking Department.
The investor group revealed the reshuffling in an amendment to the purchase application that was filed with the state Banking Board.
Dansker withdrew the group's purchase application on Feb. 2, just before the Banking Board was scheduled to vote on the proposal.
Ms. Sykes said she did not know how large of a financial stake Shapiro or Dansker would have in the investment group as a result of the amendment.
The proposal calls for the investor group to give the bank enough money to bring its ratio of capital to assets up to 6 percent. It also calls for the bank to continue operating under its current management.
"We're very anxious to get this done," said Albert H. Schneider, the Permanent's executive vice president and chief financial officer.
When the group withdrew its application three months ago, the investors' attorney said Dansker was not "comfortable with the number of people who were available to vote on it."
Although the Permanent has received three or four letters protesting the proposal to sell the bank to Dansker because of his bribery conviction, Schneider said he does not know whether that was one of the reasons behind the amendment.
"That got an awful lot of publicity," Schneider said. "But we have no idea (about the conviction's impact) at this point because it has not come before the board publicly yet."
Dansker, a real estate investor and mortgage banker, was convicted of conspiring to bribe the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J. in an attempt to obtain zoning variances that were needed to build a large commercial complex at the foot of the George Washington Bridge.
Bank officials previously said they did not believe Dansker's felony bribery conviction should have affected his chances of receiving approval to buy the bank. "You really can't run a bank in New York state without everybody knowing what everybody's doing," Schneider said.
The purchase must be approved by the Banking Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Federal Home Loan Bank Board.