WASHINGTON--President Carter was unaware that his peanut warehouse had overdrawn a Georgia bank account by more than $400,000 during the first year of his presidency, Press Secretary Jody Powell said yesterday.
Powell said Carter did not know of the overdraft at the National Bank of Georgia--formerly headed by Bert Lance, the one-time budget director who resigned that post after allegations of security fraud in the fall of 1977--until two bank directors disclosed the discrepancy on Wednesday.
Lindsey Hopkins and Church Yearley, the two directors, revealed the overdraft as part of a report on Lance's affairs that was required by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Hopkins and Yearley said, however, they believe the overdraft occurred because the bank was at that time inexperienced in its method of recording loans.
The report also showed that Carter's business received terms on the loan that were better than the then-current prime lending rate--supposedly the lowest rate available to borrowers.
Powell said that the interest rate on the loan was lower than the prime, but insisted there was no illegality involved.
He added that Carter's only involvement in setting terms for the loan occurred when he asked his brother, Billy, to ask Lance to reduce the interest rate.