One Bank's Scooter Stuart Thought He Knew Who Blew the Whistle

by George Waldon  on Monday, Aug. 5, 2013 12:00 am  

The largest asset seized was the net payout of a $20 million life insurance policy on Stuart. The government claims the $17.7 million is a fruit of Stuart’s allegedly illegal dealings and that he used tainted money to keep the John Hancock Life Insurance Co. policy in force after he was fired from the bank he owned. The 44-page forfeiture complaint portrays Stuart as living out of the bank, someone who didn’t draw the line between bank owner and fiduciary of a federally regulated financial institution.

In interviews with Arkansas Business after his removal from One Bank, Stuart never admitted to any wrongdoing. He didn’t deny any either.

Stuart did make intimations that the investigation would implicate others, and that there was more than one person of interest.

“I’m not the only one,” Stuart said.

ABCs of One Bank

Other casualties followed after the late Scooter Stuart was forced out of One Bank & Trust at the end of September. The federal investigation that was launched with an anonymous tip in March 2012 is expected to yield more names and charges in the coming weeks.

Tom Whitehead was dismissed as chief financial officer, executive vice president and director of One Bank in December. Two months later, Gary Rickenbach was dismissed as executive vice president, chief loan officer and director.

Sources familiar with the investigation identify Whitehead as “former Employee A” in the forfeiture complaint filed last month by federal prosecutors in Little Rock. Sources identify Matt Sweet, former controller and vice president at One Bank, as “former Employee B.” Sweet left the bank in January 2012. According to the complaint, “former Employee B” allegedly was dismissed by Stuart for embezzling money from the bank. Sweet has not been charged with any crime and Arkansas Business has been unable to locate him for comment.

The complaint alleges that “former Employee B” paid $110,000 in restitution to the bank, and $101,000 of that was diverted to Stuart.

Sources identify Michael Heald, One Bank’s executive vice president, chief operating officer and director until Stuart fired him two years ago, as “former Employee C.”

The alphabet soup of former employees allegedly were all involved in aiding Stuart’s diversion of bank funds, according to the forfeiture complaint.



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