Farkas guilty in $2.9B mortgage fraud

April 19, 2011 at 8:36 PM
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RICHMOND, Va., April 19 (UPI) -- Ex-Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Chairman Lee Bentley Farkas was convicted in Virginia Tuesday in a $2.9 billion mortgage fraud scheme that helped sink Colonial Bank.

Farkas was found guilty on 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 following a 10-day trial in U.S. District Court in Richmond. He is to be sentenced July 1.

Six other defendants have pleaded guilty.

Farkas and the others engaged in a scheme from 2002 to 2009 that misappropriated more than $1.4 billion from Colonial Bank's Mortgage Warehouse Lending Division in Orlando, Fla., and about $1.5 billion from Ocala Funding, a mortgage lending facility controlled by TBW.

Before both companies collapsed, Taylor, Bean & Whitaker was one of the largest privately held mortgage lending companies in the country and Colonial was one of the 25 largest banks.

"Lee Farkas, the former chairman of TBW, masterminded one of the largest bank fraud schemes in history," Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said in a release. "His shockingly brazen scheme poured fuel on the fire of the financial crisis. It not only led to the downfall of TBW, one of the largest private mortgage lending companies in the United States, but also contributed to the failure of one of the country's largest commercial banks.

"Mr. Farkas may have thought he could steal nearly $3 billion from investors and taxpayers and sail into the sunset. But now a jury has told him otherwise, and he must face the severe consequences."

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