Did you hear the rumor that Rush Harding, a name long synonymous with the Crews & Associates bond brokerage in Little Rock that is owned by First Security Bancorp of Searcy, is now working for Bank OZK?
“Not a rumor,” Harding told Whispers in a text last week.
He started at the publicly traded Little Rock bank on Oct. 6, Harding said.
There his new title is director of investments and strategic opportunities. He said he’s “managing several portfolios for the bank.”
Harding, 68, stepped down as CEO of Crews & Associates in late 2019, and we now know that was related to an investigation by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission that was finally settled in August.
The SEC assessed a $200,000 penalty against Crews and an additional $100,000 penalty against Harding for what it called “unfair dealing” in a West Virginia municipal bond tender in 2015. Harding and the firm also had to disgorge their commissions on the deal, which were about $90,500 combined.
Neither Harding nor Crews admitted any wrongdoing in the deal. The SEC acknowledged that “the tender resulted in significant savings” for Ohio County, West Virginia, a longtime client of Crews & Associates.
But the SEC also found that Crews failed to make sufficient disclosures to the county about its purchase of bonds that would be included in the tender offer.
Harding, who had no previous disciplinary history, was forbidden to participate in new municipal bond offerings or tender offers for a year and ordered to get training.