End of Metropolitan Mortgage saga is in sight
Final distribution likely by late SeptemberApril 9th, 2020
Investors who lost huge sums when Spokane-based Metropolitan Mortgage & Securities Co. and affiliate Summit Securities Inc. shut down about a decade and a half ago should recoup a final, small portion of their money by this fall.
That’s the latest estimate from Maggie Lyons, Coeur d’Alene-based trustee and plan administrator for Metropolitan and Summit creditors’ trusts set up through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Lyons says in a March 15 letter to creditors that the trusts are in the final stages of “auctioning off the remaining real estate and selling the remaining cash flow assets” formerly held by the companies.
Assuming the transactions proceed as expected, final distribution checks for both trusts—totaling about $13.3 million—should be mailed before the end of September, she says in the letter. Lyons couldn’t be reached for comment, so an official tally wasn’t available. It appears, however, the final payout would equate to a total financial recovery, over the lengthy durations of the two trusts, of a little over $160 million.
For the Metropolitan Creditors’ Trust, this year’s distribution will be its ninth overall and will total more than $12 million, or 3.4% of total dollars of claims filed in the Metropolitan bankruptcy, Lyons says in her latest update.
For the Summit Creditors’ Trust, this will be the seventh distribution and will total about $1.3 million, or just under 1% of claims outstanding, she adds.
Lyons made the last distributions to beneficiaries of the Metropolitan trust in late 2018. To date, a total of $121.75 million has been paid to Metropolitan beneficiaries, equating to an overall recovery of 33.7% of claims filed.
Summit Securities beneficiaries were mailed their last distribution checks in September 2016. To date, they’ve received a total of $25 million, which equates to 16.6% for each dollar of claim filed in the Summit bankruptcy.
Lyons had said in a letter to trust beneficiaries a year ago that she expected final distribution payments to be about 3% of claims for Metropolitan investors and about 1% for Summit investors. Thus, it appears the final payouts will be close to those estimates.
Included in the latest mailing were grantor letters, which are annual tax forms the trusts issue. Investors can use the forms to report their proportional share of the income and loss that is included in the annual tax return for the two creditors’ trusts.
For most beneficiaries, the amounts reported in the grantor letters are small and have little impact on individual tax returns. However, the IRS requires the trusts to issue and mail the tax forms to every beneficiary, and to submit copies of the grantor letters to the federal agency. The IRS deadline for mailing grantor letters is April 15, but the Metropolitan and Summit trusts typically mail the grantor letters a month sooner, usually by March 15.
In the latest mailing, more than 14,000 grantor letters were issued to beneficiaries of the two trusts. Lyons says the trusts will issue final grantor letters, for 2020, and probably will do so much earlier than was possible in prior years since operations for the two trusts will wrap up in the fourth quarter.
The two trusts were established to liquidate the companies’ numerous and widely scattered real estate assets. They originally were scheduled to terminate in February 2011, but twice were granted five-year extensions because of difficulties in selling the various properties.
Lyons said in a letter to investors in late 2018 that she and the Metropolitan Trust executive board hoped to make a final distribution and close the trusts in 2019, but that projection also proved overly optimistic.
In past interviews with the Journal, Lyons has lamented the large number of elderly investors who have died waiting to recover some of their lost money, leaving heirs as the recipients of the final incremental payments. She said the beneficiary pool has grown in size as heirs have inherited ownership positions in the trusts.
Metropolitan and Summit initiated bankruptcy proceedings in February 2004, and the two trusts were established following a bankruptcy organization plan confirmation about two years later. The $2.3 billion Metropolitan conglomerate’s collapse was shocking to many investors who had long regarded its real estate-based offerings as a safe and conservative investment option but ended up losing substantial portions of their anticipated retirement savings. Also, several hundred employees of the two companies and their subsidiaries lost their jobs.