Mint Museum adds post: Chief operating officer

Mint Museum adds post: Chief operating officer

Charlotte's Mint Museum announced Monday that Toni Freeman has been named to the newly created post of chief operating officer, effective next week.

Freeman has been with Mecklenburg Citizens for Public Education and previously worked for the Duke Endowment, the Charlotte Convention and Visitors Bureau, and SunHealth. At the Mint, Freeman will oversee finance, information technology, museum shops and manage the museum's risk-management program. Mark Washburn

Ratings firm lauds

Merrill Edge call centers

Consumer ratings firm J.D. Power and Associates has named Bank of America Merrill Edge's call centers "An Outstanding Customer Service Experience," after reviewing the bank's services through its call center certification program.

Merrill Edge is Merrill Lynch's investment advice and platform for the "mass affluent" category of customer, or those with between $50,000 and $250,000 in investable assets. It offers its services over the phone through the call centers, known as the Merrill Edge Advisory Center, or in person at some banks by appointment.

J.D. Power's review looked at more than 100 practices and involved a random survey of customers. To earn the outstanding rating, the call center must fall within the top 20 percent of service scores. Andrew Dunn

First Trust Bank reverses loss in fourth quarter

Charlotte-based First Trust Bank reported earnings of $823,000 in the fourth quarter, reversing a loss of $2.3 million from the same period a year earlier.

Through 2011, the bank made $2.4 million. It lost $3.9 million in 2010.

First Trust shrunk its loan portfolio by 14 percent in the year, while its assets remained fairly stable at $442 million.

Nonperforming loans fell 22 percent, to $24.7 million, and provisions for loan losses shrunk as well. Bank-owned real estate grew.

First Trust serves small businesses and professionals in the Charlotte area. Andrew Dunn

JPMorgan Chase reaches deal in overdraft-fee case

JPMorgan Chase, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, has reached a preliminary agreement to pay $110 million to settle litigation saying it gouged customers on overdraft fees for checking accounts, court records show.

The settlement would resolve claims by customers including Andrea Luquetta of Los Angeles, who sued over fees charged to debit cards attached to her checking account. U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King in Miami must approve any settlement. King had earlier rejected arguments by various banks that customers were legally bound to arbitrate the dispute.

"We're pleased to have reached an agreement in principle," a JPMorgan spokesman said.

The litigation before King involves more than 30 banks sued over their overdraft-fee policies. The customers say the banks reorder debit-card transactions in their computers to maximize overdraft fees. Charlotte-based Bank of America, the second-biggest U.S. bank by assets, agreed last year to pay $410 million without admitting liability to settle an overdraft lawsuit brought by its customers.

In her lawsuit, filed in 2009, Luquetta claimed JPMorgan engaged in "unfair, deceptive and unconscionable" assessment and collection of overdraft fees. Her complaint also refers to the practices of Washington Mutual, which JPMorgan bought in 2008. Bloomberg