The United States is suing the estate of a deceased former bank owner, alleging that Layton Stuart, the late president and owner of One Financial Corporation, defrauded the federal government out of $17.3 million in funds from the Trouble Asset Relief Program.
The suit was announced Wednesday by the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the U.S. Department of Justice.
The complaint also marks the first time that a TARP bank has been charged under the False Claims Act for making material misrepresentations to Treasury in order to obtain taxpayer TARP bailout funds, said SIGTARP’s Christy Romero.
In the suit, the government alleges that Stuart, who died in 2013, made misrepresentations to induce the U.S. Department of the Treasury to invest $17.3 million in Arkansas-based One Financial as part of the Treasury’s Capital Purchase Program.
According to the complaint, Stuart, on behalf of One Financial, applied in late-2008 for a TARP investment of $17.3 million. The complaint alleges that Stuart knowingly made false statements about One Bank’s financial condition and what the bank intended to do with the TARP funds.
According to the complaint (which can be read in full here), Stuart’s statements and the bank’s TARP application allegedly concealed “serial frauds” that Stuart and other One Financial director and executives had been committing and “intended to continue committing.”
One Financial was handed the $17.3 million bailout, and within 30 days of receiving the TARP funds, Stuart allegedly diverted more than $2 million into his personal accounts for his own use, the complaint stated.
The complaint alleges that Stuart used the TARP funds to make payments on his personal credit cards, to fund more than $1.75 million in air travel for his friends and family, to fraudulently purchase a home for his daughter, to purchase a 2013 Land Rover for his son, to purchase a 2013 Lexus for his daughter, and other extravagant purchases.
According to the complaint, by the time One Financial received the TARP funds, Stuart had already used bank funds to purchase a $850,000 condominium in Dallas, to buy a 2008 Cadillac Escalade for his wife, to buy a home for his son, and to pay back taxes Stuart owed the government.
Stuart was fired from his positions at the bank in September 2012 and died in March of 2013.
“TARP was passed by Congress to stabilize banks and our nation’s financial system during a time of crisis, not for the benefit of those who resort to false claims as a pretext for receiving TARP,” Romero said.
“We commend the Justice Department and our law enforcement partners for standing united with SIGTARP to hold accountable those who violate the law at the expense of taxpayers’ hard-earned TARP investments,” Romero continued.
“TARP was enacted in 2008 to restore liquidity and stability to the financial system of the United States by injecting needed capital into financial institutions,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Obtaining TARP funds based on false representations to the government frustrates those goals and harms the American taxpayer.”