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Date Set for One Bank & Trust SaleLock Icon

3 min read

(A correction has been made to this article. See end for details.)

Remember the court-ordered sale of controlling interest in Little Rock’s One Bank & Trust we told you about three weeks ago?

A date is now set for the event that will bring a change of ownership to the $305 million-asset bank: May 8, 10 a.m., Eastern Standard Time at the Marshals Service office at the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C.

Standing first in line with a potential credit bid of up to $47.9 million is the United States of America.

That dollar figure represents the balance of a triple-damage judgment tied to a TARP funding fraud claim by the Department of the Treasury.

Up for sale are the 344,577 shares held by the bank’s insolvent holding company, OneFinancial Corp.

The shares represent a majority stake in the struggling bank, which hasn’t turned a normal quarterly profit in nigh on five years.

The stock has been held in escrow since it was seized by U.S. marshals on Nov. 3, 2015. The seizure was made in advance of Treasury obtaining its massive default judgment against OneFinancial on Jan. 11, 2016.

Several parties have expressed interest in One Bank: Bank of England; First Financial Banc Corp., parent company of El Dorado’s First Financial Bank; EJF Capital LLC of Arlington, Virginia; Home BancShares Inc. of Conway; and Arvest Bank of Fayetteville.

One Bank’s deteriorating equity capital stood at $12 million at year’s end.

SERP Exposure?

Meanwhile in Pulaski County Circuit Court, current and former One Bank execs continue their dispute.

Recent activity has focused on a $1.5 million claim against the bank and its Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan by Tom Whitehead, former chief financial officer at One Bank.

Jerry Pavlas, the bank’s CEO since September 2012, claims Whitehead forfeited his SERP benefits when he was fired “for just cause” on Dec. 27, 2012.

Whitehead countered One Bank’s motion for partial summary judgment with several points: 1) the plan falls under state law, not federal law, 2) there is no mandatory arbitration clause to resolve the dispute and 3) the agreement contains language allowing payment of his fully vested SERP benefits no matter how or why his employment was terminated.

Whitehead also indirectly called out Pavlas for blaming him for the actions mandated and directed by the bank’s super shareholder, Layton “Scooter” Stuart, and condoned by its board of directors and senior management.

Whitehead, who remains without criminal charge, took exception to the “just cause” argument and the bank’s persistent criminal verbiage directed at him.

In his brief, Whitehead said the bank’s recounting of “undisputed facts” fails to state the seminal fact that he had no more discretion “or involvement in what Stuart, the board of directors and the senior management did or approved of Stuart doing in terms of what had been going on at the bank before Stuart was removed than Simon of Cyrene had when the Romans made him carry the cross of Jesus as Jesus was led away to his crucifixion.”

(Correction, May 9, 2017: The size of the ownership stake represented by the shares being sold was incorrect in the original article.)

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