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STOCK EXCHANGE PRACTICES
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1934
UNITED STATES SENATE,
BANKING AND CURRENCY,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 10:30 a.m., pursuant to adjournment on yesterday, in room no. 301 of the Senate Office Building, Senator Duncan Ú. Fletcher presiding.
Present: Senators Fletcher (chairman), and Couzens.
Present also: Ferdinand Pecora, counsel to the committee; Julius Silver and David Saperstein, associate counsel to the committee; and Frank J. Meehan, chief statistician to the committee.
Senator COUZENS (presiding). The chairman, Senator Fletcher, is attending a meeting of the Home Loan Bank Board this morning, and has asked me to preside until he gets through with the other meeting.
TESTIMONY OF JAMES 0. MURFIN-Resumed
Mr. PECORA. Judge Murfin, will you resume the stand! For the purpose of refreshing my recollection, Judge Murfin, will you be good enough to tell me when you first became a director of the First National Bank in Detroit ?
Mr. MURFIN. When it merged with the Peoples' Wayne County Bank.
Mr. PECORA. That was on December 31, 1931, wasn't it?
Mr. PECORA. Prior to that time had you had any connection with the First National Bank in Detroit ?
Mr. MURFIN. None. Mr. PECORA. Were you, after you became a member of the board of directors of that bank, a member of any special committees of the board ?
Mr. MURFIN. I served several times as a member of the executive committee. And I was on a special claims committee, that met every Tuesday afternoon to consider past-due accounts.
Mr. PECORA. How was the executive committee of the board constituted ?
Mr. MURFIN. The executive officers and a chosen list of directors that were appointed by Mr. Mills, the chairman of the board; and they more or less rotated. But they did not rotate with any degree of accuracy. The board was very large, consisting, I think, of nearly 90 members, and the chairman chose such members of the
whole board as he wished to serve on the executive committee. I think there were either 7 or 9 directors that served on the executire committee, and the executive officers of the bank.
Mr. PECORA, And in this rotating process of service, how long did a director appointed to the executive committee serve on the executive committee?
Mr. MURFIN. Mr. Pecora, that was changed several times. I think last year, if my memory is correct, they served for 2 or 3 months at a clip. Prior to that time they served a month at a time.
Mr. Pecora. Was there a governing committee of the board!
Mr. MURFIN. I was not. The governing committee was a permanent committee.
Mr. PECORA. That was a standing committee?
Mr. PECORA. And its members were appointed by the chairman. or were they elected by the board!
Mr. MURFIN. Well, sir, I don't recall. I think-well, I just don't recall.
Mr. PECORA. What were the essential functions of the governing committee of the board ?
Mr. MURFIN. They ran the bank.
Mr. PECORA. Was the chairman of the board the chairman of the governing committee as well, either ex officio or by virtue of any provision of the bylaws?
Mr. MURFIN. At one time I know he was not, but whether he did so serve when Mr. Mills became chairman of the board I am not sure. I was never on that committee, never on that board, I mean, and I am not certain enough to answer that question.
Mr. PECORA. Did any of the members of the governing committee receive salaries for serving as such?
Mr. MURFIN. No. They received directors' fees, as I understand, at each meeting
Mr. PECORA. Do you know how frequently the members of the governing committee met officially?
Mr. MURFIN. No; I do not. Mr. Mills can tell you all those things I don't know. The executive committee met every other day.
Mr. PECORA. Was the governing committee the managing power of the bank from the time when you first became a member of the board of directors?
Mr. MURFIN. It was. Mr. Pecora. And it continued to serve in that way? Mr. MURFIN. It did. Mr. Pecora. Do you know whether any amendment of the bylaws of the bank corporation was specially made in order to equip the governing committee with the power to run the bank, which yon
Mr. MURFIN. I so understood, but I have no detailed knowledge of it. I know that that was the plan, that the governing committee was to have primary charge of questions of policy, and it ran the bank.
say it had ?
Mr. PECORA. Did that plan become effective before you became a member of the board of the bank or afterward?
Mr. MURFIN. I think it was part of the original set-up, Mr. Pecora, when the two banks merged.
Mr. PECORA. That would, then, be coincidental with your becoming director of the consolidated bank!
Mr. MURFIN. Yes.
Mr. PECORA. Do you recall what change was made in the bylaws at that time which was designed to give the governing committee the power of management which you say it had ?
Mr. MURFIN. I do not. Mr. Long is in the room, and he drew what changes there were in the bylaws, and he could tell you all about that. I know almost nothing about it.
Mr. Pecora. Well, was the change in the bylaws made by the board of directors?
Mr. MURFIN. I think-well, now, I am quite certain, that this governing committee was set up as a part of the original organization when those two banks came together.
Mr. PECORA. How frequently did the board of directors of the bank meet after you became a member?
Mr. Murfin. Every month.
Mr. PECORA. And were those monthly meetings held continuously throughout the year 1932 and up to the time that the receiver was appointed for the bank? Mr. MURFIN. They were.
Mr. PECORA. Do you know how frequently the governing committee met?
Mr. MURFIN. No; I do not.
Mr. Pecora. Was it the routine procedure for the governing committee to make written reports to the board at the monthly meetings of the board ?
Mr. MURFIN. Correct. Before each director there was placed this typewritten-well, very substantial portfolio it was, in which was disclosed what the governing committee had done, and the action of the executive committee.
Mr. PECORA. Those statements or reports were left in the board room by the directors, I presume?
Mr. MURFIN. That is true,
Mr. PECORA. Now, you gave some testimony with respect to the bank, its condition, and other things relating to the bank, before the so-called “one-man grand jury” in Detroit last summer, didn't you, Judge Murfin?
Mr. MURFIN. I was a witness; yes, sir.
Mr. PECORA. You testified at that time, I presume, of your own volition ?
Mr. MURFIN. The prosecuting attorney sent for me. I did not wait to be escorted over by the sheriff, but a young man in the prosecutor's office came and asked me to come and testify. And it came like that (snapping thumb and forefinger), and he did not give me 5 minutes, and I just went over there.