Sovereign Bank sues Keene jewelry manufacturer

Sovereign Bank filed suit Monday against Findings Inc., a large jewelry manufacturer in Keene, charging that Findings is in default of a consignment and loan agreement. The bank is asking for about $4 million in precious metals back as well as calling in a $1.9 million loan.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Concord, also demands that Findings install a vault custodian at the store, to secure and protect the banks co-signed precious metals. It also names Findings Realty Inc. and Harvey O’Conor, Findings’ CEO.

Calls to O’Conor and his attorney were not returned by NHBR deadline.

Findings Inc., which was founded after World War II, has 100 employees and makes parts (90 percent of which are gold and 10 percent such as silver) such as ear wires and posts for earrings, ring heads to set gems and bezel charms, according to the company’s Web site.

Sovereign was acquired in January by Banco Santander, the largest bank in Spain. It has $90 billion in assets and some 750 branches, including a number in New Hampshire. The suit was filed by Sovereign Precious Metals LLC and Sovereign Bank, both based in Pennsylvania

Sovereign first entered its consignment and loan agreement with Findings in June 2000, according to the court filing. The agreement, which has been extended and amended some 18 times, includes a condition to limit the amount of precious metals that the company can have at a given time. If Findings exceeds that amount, it would have to return the metals and repay the loan.

According to the suit, Findings maintained some $476,000 in excess metal. Findings tried to bring it into compliance but lacked the liquidity to eliminate the excess, the suit said.

Sovereign also had asked for a letter of intent to sell the company’s equity or a repayment plan, but got neither, said the bank. It sent a default notice on Sept. 15 and on Sept. 29 and on Oct. 2 sent demand letter, but did not receive a satisfactory answer, the suit charges. — BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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