First Western: First for Dennis Smiley Cash?

by George Waldon  on Monday, Apr. 21, 2014 12:00 am  

Benton County Circuit Judge John R. Scott is tasked with the job of sorting out the various civil claims against Smiley. A hearing date for the end of May or early June is expected to attract a cattle call of lawyers to haggle through the issues.

Smiley had not, at least by last Wednesday, been charged with any crime, although Arkansas Business sources confirm a federal criminal investigation of his borrowing habits.

Some lenders filed UCC claims, and others obtained documentation securing what they thought was legal control of Smiley’s Arvest account as a safeguard measure. Some lenders took both actions to protect their loans. Some banks want a nonjury trial, and others want a jury trial.

After Smiley resigned on March 13 as CEO of Arvest Bank’s operations in Benton County, the company issued two cashier’s checks in his name that liquidated the scandal-tainted account. Arvest officials asked the court to take the checks and determine who was entitled to the money. Arvest also noted that Smiley was not permitted to pledge the assets of the account under the terms of the Arvest Bank Group Inc. stock and option plans.

Yet documents submitted so far by three lenders indicate Arvest Bank officials signed control agreements giving them security interest in Smiley’s account.

Did Arvest officials do that as well as acknowledge both Bank of Fayetteville and Delta Trust & Bank as having a first priority claim on Smiley’s account?

Delta Trust, chartered in Parkdale (Ashley County) but based in Little Rock, was the first to file a lawsuit against Smiley interests on March 25, claiming $245,126 owed. Bank of Fayetteville filed a $479,177 claim on April 7.

Questions of alleged forgery have surfaced in the case through claims against Smiley’s namesake father.

H. Dennis Smiley Sr. denied signing any loan documents associated with Bank of Fayetteville or Delta Trust & Bank. That legal response countered their allegations that he was financially liable for some of the loans based on documents filed with the court that bear his purported signature.

If his signature was forged, did his son submit other fraudulent documents to fool lenders?

First State Bank of Lonoke claims Smiley submitted fraudulent financial statements for 2011, 2012 and 2013.

First Western hasn’t filed claims yet detailing how much Smiley owes, nor have 15 other lenders who did business with him. John Hampton, CEO of First Western Bank of Booneville, couldn’t be reached for comment.



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