FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: David Hakensen, H Co., 612-840-4592
Otto Bremer Trust files amended counterclaim in BFC litigation
Filing holds BFC directors personally liable for damage done to OBT charitable assets, presents persuasive new evidence of willful misconduct
SAINT PAUL, May 14, 2020 — The Trustees of the Otto Bremer Trust (OBT), the 86 percent majority shareholder of Bremer Financial Corporation (BFC) and one of the nation’s largest philanthropic organizations, today filed amended counterclaims against BFC and its directors: Jeanne H. Crain, Ronald James, Mary Brainerd, Glenn D. McCoy, Kevin A. Rhein, Wendy Schoppert, and Charles B. Westling.
Documents recently uncovered show that since at least 1988 BFC has recognized OBT’s right—and duty—to consider selling its BFC stock in support of the Trust’s philanthropic work. As a result, the efforts of Bremer and its seven directors to obstruct OBT from exploring BFC’s strategic options were entirely improper.
When confronted with OBT’s new evidence, BFC threatened additional litigation if the documents were made public. OBT has made its filing today under seal to avoid more needless and costly litigation, but intends to ask the Court to unseal the materials as quickly as possible so that the public record in this matter can be complete.
OBT provided the following comment regarding today’s filing:
“It’s telling that BFC’s reaction to these documents is to do everything possible—even middle-of-the-night legal maneuvering—to stop these documents from seeing the light of day. It is clear they recognize—as we do—that these documents are devastating to their case and to the entire basis for their claims. Their tactics can only delay—not prevent—the public from learning the truth in this matter while wasting more resources that should instead be earmarked for helping people in need.
“Otto Bremer committed himself and his fortune to helping communities in the midst of the Great Depression. He built the Trust in order to carry on that work … work that is needed now as never before. Thus, this action carries a profound sense of sadness: Bremer and its seven directors are responsible for the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in charitable assets, assets that should have been used to help the communities we continue to serve. We are acting to stop our resources from further depletion and to seek recovery from those responsible.”
About the Otto Bremer Trust
The Otto Bremer Trust is a bank holding company and a private charitable trust based in Saint Paul, Minn., that works at the intersection of finance and philanthropy. Created in 1944 by Otto Bremer, it is today one of the nation’s largest philanthropic organizations and is committed to supporting a better quality of life for residents of Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. OBT is the majority owner of Bremer Financial Corporation, a regional financial services company, and manages a diversified investment portfolio. Since its founding, OBT has invested more than $750 million in people, places, and opportunities in the Upper Midwest. Visit ottobremer.org for more information, including a list of grants and program-related investments.
This press release does not constitute or form part of, and should not be construed as, an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy the securities of BFC or any other securities in any jurisdiction, including the United States, or an inducement to enter into investment activity. No part of this press release, nor the fact of its distribution, should form the basis of, or be relied on in connection with, any contract or commitment or investment decision whatsoever.