Members of former Alabama secretary of state file complaint

A lawsuit filed against Regions Financial Corp. alleges the bank holding company mismanaged a charitable trust named after a former Alabama secretary of state – charging exorbitant fees and awarding scholarships to children of board members administration of the trust.

The lawsuit, dated July 7, was filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court by family members of Mabel Amos, who served as Alabama’s secretary of state from 1967 to 1975, reports. .

The lawsuit argues that the trustees of the board benefited personally “by using trust funds to educate their children in expensive out-of-state colleges and were not in financial need, while the members of Amos’ immediate family were in financial need.”

The lawsuit seeks to remove Regions as a fiduciary bank and to demand that it reimburse all distributions to the fiduciary children, along with compensatory and punitive damages.

In 1993, Amos filed his will establishing a memorial trust in his name with Union Bank, which eventually merged with Regions.

According to the lawsuit, the regions began charging “outrageous” fees when oil was discovered on Amos’ property, as opposed to “reasonable” fees when there were only natural gas wells. For example, in the lawsuit, plaintiffs say Regions received about $7,000 for spending five hours a week administering the trust in 2010. In one year, those same five hours a week cost $92,736. From 2002 to 2018, according to the lawsuit, the trust paid more than $1 million in administration fees to the regions.

At the same time, the number and amount of scholarships has also increased, from $21,794 in 5 scholarships in 2011 to $214,000 in 17 scholarships two years later.

Among those scholarships were “thousands of dollars” for the children of two fiduciary lawyers, according to the lawsuit, who did not attend colleges in Alabama, which was not Amos’ intention. by creating the trust.

Additionally, Lagniappe Mobile reported that the son and daughter of Alabama Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton received $120,000 from the trust to attend the University of Texas. reached out to Jennifer Elmore, vice president of corporate media and public relations for regions, who would not comment directly on the lawsuit.

“Region fees are less than one percent of the market value of assets under management, which is consistent with our standard rates and competitive with industry rates,” Elmore said.

Lynn A. Saleh