TARP bank exec charged with bank fraud

Official also charged with money laundering to pay off personal finances

A former vice president and controller of Little Rock, Ark.-based One Bank & Trust was indicted and charged with 30 counts of bank fraud and 30 counts of money laundering for his abuse of funds allocated to him as a recipient of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds.

Matthew Sweet of One Bank & Trust (Onebanc) allegedly abused his position at the bank to steal roughly $75,000 in TARP funds to pay off his personal credit card bills.

"TARP was designed to provide support to our nation’s banks and financial system during a time of crisis, not to provide a personal bailout for bank insiders to support their spending habits," explained Special Inspector General for TARP Christy Romero.

She added, "SIGTARP and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate crime related to TARP and will aggressively investigate allegations of fraud and hold perpetrators accountable for their conduct."

Sweet was the former vice president and controller of Onebanc until February 2012.

While employed, the indictment alleges Sweet obtained 30 cashier’s checks from 2009 to 2011 by using his position at the bank to sign cashier’s checks drawn on a Onebanc clearing account.

Sweet would then mail the cashier’s checks to two credit card companies to pay off his personal credit card bills. When confronted, Sweet admitted to his actions.

He resigned and paid back the amount he stole with two cashier’s checks from another bank, including one check for $9,662.25 and another for $101,003.49.

"The past few years have been financially challenging for individual citizens and institutions alike," said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas Christopher Thyer.

He continued, "Most have made adjustments and found positive solutions to manage their financial health. For those who choose illegal methods, it is one of our highest priorities to prosecute where the facts and the law warrant charges."

OneFinancial Corporation, the parent company of Onebanc, received $17.3 million in federal taxpayer funds through TARP. To date, these funds remain outstanding.

The maximum sentence for bank fraud is up to 30 years in prison and not more than $1 million and/or not more than five years of supervised release.

Additionally, the maximum sentence for money laundering is not more than 20 years in prison, not more than a $500,000 fine and/or not more than three years of supervised release.

This prosecution is brought in coordination with President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which was established to wage an aggressive and coordinated effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.

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