Ex-Arvest Banker Dennis Smiley Draws Criminal Scrutiny

by George Waldon and Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Apr. 7, 2014 12:00 am  

“Mr. Smiley’s reasons for resigning his position are personal in nature and we are not going to comment on his personal situation,” Arvest spokesman Jason Kincy said in an email on Tuesday afternoon.

Smiley had worked for the company since 1989, was CEO of Arvest in Springdale for about 11 years and was the top executive for the Benton County operations for almost two years.

Smiley did not respond to a message left on what was believed to be his home phone, and a Fayetteville lawyer believed to be representing him did not respond to a call for comment.

Delta Trust & Bank, chartered in Parkdale (Ashley County) but based in Little Rock, filed suit on March 25 against Smiley and his father for defaulting on a $245,126 loan.

The loan at issue in the civil suit, made through the Bella Vista branch of Delta Trust, is also part of is part of the criminal bank fraud investigation.

The loan to HDS Holdings LLC was personally guaranteed by Dennis Smiley and his father, according to Delta’s complaint filed March 25 in Benton County Circuit Court.

The Delta Trust loan was made Feb. 20, and the Smileys failed to make the first monthly payment due on March 20. “Defendants have confessed that they are either unable or unwilling to pay the obligations owed,” according to the complaint.

Delta Trust, which is being acquired by Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff, appears to be the last in a line of lenders that were lured into making loans to Dennis Smiley.

The Delta debt is among a roster of similar loans secured by HDS Holdings and Dennis Smiley’s stake in an executive compensation account tied to the value of Arvest Bank stock.

Uniform Commercial Code financial statements show the same stock has been pledged in similar loan agreements with eight other lenders besides Delta Trust.

Sources familiar with the case have told Arkansas Business that Smiley’s loan fraud scheme included approximately nine additional banks whose identities have not yet been revealed in public records.

The banks understood that Smiley’s Arvest collateral was not literal stock but a type of “uncertificated” stock. These phantom shares were contrived by Arvest Bank Group as an incentive to reward top executives based on the appreciation of real Arvest shares held by the Walton family.



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