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Sterling Bank and Trust temporarily suspends Advantage loan program

Southfield, Mich.-based Sterling Bank and Trust FSB, a unit of Sterling Bancorp Inc., is putting its Advantage loan program on hold as it conducts an internal review of the program's documentation procedures.

The company is auditing documentation on past loans and putting in place additional systems and controls to ensure the bank’s policies and procedures are followed on loans originated under the program.

Sterling Bank and Trust intends to resume the program once the requirement is met. The company, however, said it is difficult to estimate how long the suspension might last.

The Advantage loan program is a material component of the bank's total loan originations. While it is difficult to quantify the financial impact of the program's temporary suspension, the company anticipates a reduced level of near-term loan originations, slower overall loan portfolio growth and less loan sales.

The bank does not anticipate any credit-related issues from previous loans made under the program due to the substantial amount of equity required for each borrower and the resulting strong collateral package for each loan. To mitigate the operational and financial impact of the program's temporary suspension, Sterling Bancorp will look to diversify its overall loan production, such as expanding the bank’s commercial lending efforts, including multifamily, tenant-in-common, construction and commercial and industrial loans.

Sterling Bancorp noted that if it is unable to replace the lost production in a timely matter, or if a decision is made to alter the program, its results of operations could be "materially and adversely affected."