Message to our Customers, or Other Interested Parties

On September 29, 2022, The Miami Herald published an article about a legal battle over the control of Eastern National Bank (Eastern/Bank). This is another attempt, by Mr. Juan Santaella, an individual that in the past was accused by the United States Bankruptcy Court, S.D. Florida, Southern Division, to be a dishonest individual having gone to great lengths, reprehensibly, if not criminally, to conceal ownership and control of significant personal assets by creating, and executing documents in the names of, two individuals who do not exist, to regain control of Eastern, a bank that was legally intervened, in 1994, for Mr. Santaella’s failure to repay $300 million in financial aid provided by the Government of Venezuela. This process which is similar to placing a company in receivership in the United States still stands, and Eastern has not received any legal or regulatory directives to turn over control of the bank to Mr. Santaella.

The Board and its executive management team remain steadfast on operating in a prudent, safe and sound manner, to ensure the best interest of the bank, and the South Florida communities, it so proudly serves, while taking all necessary legal actions to protect the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance fund and its rightful shareholders.

The bank’s Board and management team is led by Lou Ferreira, its Chairman, President, and CEO, who has extensive banking and regulatory expertise, and a stellar reputation as a former National Bank Examiner with the Office of The Comptroller of the Currency.

Eastern is a U.S. chartered financial institution operating with the required approvals and clearances from its U.S. regulators, and other federal authorities. The bank has been serving the community for 53 years and its service to its low- and moderate-income communities, under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), has been rated "Outstanding" by its regulators.

Bank leadership emphatically denies all reports and allegations that the bank is under the control of Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro, and that it has in any way helped the Caracas socialist regime to evade the U.S. sanctions. Customer deposits are insured by the FDIC. FDIC insurance is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact your account officer.

Please read full updated article below:
Miami Herald article published on September 29, 2022

On August 14, 2022, El Nuevo Herald published an article about a lawsuit filed by Juan Santaella, a disgruntled minority shareholder of Eastern National Bank. Eastern is a South Florida-based community bank with four local branches. The article echoes the false accusation made by Mr. Santaella in his suit that Eastern was used as a conduit by the Maduro regime in Venezuela to access the US banking system. This is patently false and ignores the reality that Eastern is a US chartered financial institution operating for 53 years under the oversight and approval of US regulatory agencies. Eastern has obtained the required approvals and authorizations from both the OCC and OFAC to operate lawfully in the US and continues to work to effectively serve the South Florida community.

Mr. Santaella, a Venezuelan national who declared for personal bankruptcy in 2000 and was denied a discharge of his debts due to fraud, at one time was the controlling shareholder of Eastern, but lost that control following a series of enforcement actions by Venezuelan banking regulators prior to the Chavez/Maduro regimes. This lawsuit was filed back in January, and involves two of Mr. Santaella's companies, which hold only 88 shares having a nominal value of less than $1,500. Eight months later, having had no success in his suit, Santaella is using these false claims to try to gain leverage against Eastern's directors, in an effort to regain control. The lawsuit is being vigorously challenged by Eastern's former and current directors.

Please read full updated article below:
El Nuevo Herald article published en August 16, 2022

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