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Wednesday, July 11th – “American Greed” – Episode 65 – Financial Home Invasion
According to the DOJ: Lee Bentley Farkas, the former chairman of a private mortgage lending company, Taylor, Bean & Whitaker (TBW), was convicted [on April 19, 2011] for his role in a more than $2.9 billion fraud scheme that contributed to the failure of Colonial Bank, one of the 25 largest banks in the United States in 2009, and the sixth largest bank failure in American history. It also led to the bankruptcy of TBW, one of the largest privately held mortgage lending companies in the United States in 2009.
After a 10-day trial, a federal jury found Farkas guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit bank, wire and securities fraud; six counts of bank fraud; four counts of wire fraud; and three counts of securities fraud….According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Farkas and his co-conspirators engaged in a scheme that misappropriated more than $1.4 billion from Colonial Bank’s Mortgage Warehouse Lending Division in Orlando, Fla., and approximately $1.5 billion from Ocala Funding, a mortgage lending facility controlled by TBW. Farkas and his co-conspirators misappropriated this money to, among other things, cover TBW’s operating expenses. The fraud scheme contributed to the failures of Colonial Bank and TBW.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, the fraud scheme began in 2002, when Farkas and his co-conspirators ran overdrafts in TBW bank accounts at Colonial Bank in order to cover TBW’s cash shortfalls. Farkas and his co-conspirators at TBW and Colonial Bank transferred money between accounts at Colonial Bank to hide the overdrafts. Evidence presented at trial showed that after the overdrafts grew to more than $100 million, Farkas and his co-conspirators covered up the overdrafts and operating losses by causing Colonial Bank to purchase from TBW over time more than $1.5 billion in what amounted to worthless mortgage loan assets, including loans that TBW had already sold to other investors and fake pools of loans supposedly being formed into mortgage-backed securities. Farkas and his co-conspirators caused Colonial Bank to report these assets on its books at face value when in fact the mortgage loan assets were worthless. By August 2009, approximately $500 million in fake pools of loans remained on Colonial Bank’s books.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Farkas also personally misappropriated more than $20 million from TBW and Colonial Bank to finance his lifestyle, including purchasing multiple homes, scores of cars, a jet and sea plane, and restaurants and bars.
Six individuals have pleaded guilty for their roles in the fraud scheme.
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