Sterling Financial Corp., Lancaster, postponed its 2007 annual shareholder meeting and said it expected to restate its financial statements from 2004 through 2006 because of financial irregularities at a commercial financing subsidiary.

On April 19th, Sterling said it had launched an internal investigation after receiving information suggesting irregularities in certain financing contracts at Equipment Finance L.L.C., which provides commercial financing for the soft pulp logging and land-clearing industries, primarily in the southeastern United States.

Since starting the investigation, Sterling placed two senior executives at Equipment Finance on leave and installed a chief operating officer. Sterling, with $3.3 billion in assets and operations in southeastern Pennsylvania, northern Maryland and northern Delaware, bought Equipment Finance in 2002.

The annual meeting had been scheduled for May 8. Company shares were down 54 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $20.18 in morning trading on the Nasdaq market.