Watchdog: Treasury Bailed Out 66 Weaker Banks

By Daniel Wagner | October 4, 2010 | 5:17 PM EDT

Washington (AP) - A government watchdog says the Treasury Department bailed out dozens of banks with known financial problems. It is calling for better monitoring of banks seeking to tap a new $30 billion lending fund.

The Government Accountability Office says more banks that got bailouts appear to be faltering. It says Treasury officials justified bailouts for 66 weaker banks by pointing to factors like strong management.

The report says banks were treated unevenly because Treasury didn't track key decisions by regulators. It calls for more consistent oversight of the new program, which will send billions to small banks.

The new program aims to spur lending to credit-starved small businesses. Its structure is nearly identical to the $700 billion financial bailout that expired on Sunday.