Ex-Capital One exec settles noncompete suit

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Former Long Island banker John Kanas, who was poised to return to the New York market this year, has agreed to delay his expansion plans to settle a competitor's lawsuit.

Capital One Financial Corp. had sued Kanas, chief executive of Florida-based BankUnited Inc., claiming he violated a noncompetition agreement. To settle the lawsuit, Kanas and chief lending officer John Bohlsen, both of whom are former Capital One employees, agreed to pay Capital One $20 million in total. They also agreed not to expand BankUnited into the tristate area until Jan. 31, 2013.

In settling, Kanas and Bohlsen, who had said they complied with their noncompete agreement with Capital One, denied any liability and made no admission of wrongdoing.

Kanas was chief of North Fork Bank, a Long Island lender, from 1977 until 2006, when it was acquired by Capital One, of McLean, Va. He was then president of Capital One's banking segment until he left the bank in 2007, when he signed the noncompetition contract.

Kanas was part of an investor group that purchased BankUnited, which failed during the financial crisis and whose board he joined in 2009. In early 2012, BankUnited announced a plan to purchase New York-based Herald National Bank for $71.4 million. After Kanas announced the Herald National purchase, Capital One filed suit in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia.

In court papers concerning BankUnited's purchase of Herald last year, Kanas asserted he was not in violation of his contract with Capital One because he had "done nothing more than prepare to compete" once the agreement expired.

Kanas did not respond to a phone call seeking comment. -- With Reuters

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