Shareholder Lawsuit Alleges Self-Dealing by Ozark Heritage Bank Directors

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, May. 21, 2012 12:00 am  

Internal friction among shareholders has generated a lawsuit at Ozark Heritage Bank of Mountain View.

Rex Blackwell and Carl and Tresa West sued the $62.3 million-asset lender and six members of its board of directors, alleging more than $1 million in damages.

According to their complaint, the defendants have engaged in financial self-dealing that has damaged their stake in Ozark Heritage. The allegations include:

w Issuing preferred stock to facilitate the bank's purchase of its Mountain View headquarters and undeveloped land in Cleburne County at inflated prices; and

w Issuing undervalued common stock.

Individual defendants are James Barnes, chairman of the board, and five other directors: Buddy Bolin, J.T. Compton, David Dunlap, Fred J. Williams and Ron Willis.

The complaint, filed in Stone County Circuit Court, also accuses the defendants of breach of fiduciary duty, violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, negligence and civil conspiracy.

Ozark Heritage is operating under a consent order signed with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on Aug. 24, 2010. Hiring competent management and a laundry list of operational improvements were at the heart of that 38-page regulatory action.

You might recall that the bank was built on First National Bank of Altheimer (Jefferson County), purchased in March 2009, renamed and the charter moved to Mountain View.

Ozark Heritage reported net income of $132,000 during the first quarter after posting a $145,000 loss for 2011.



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