Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Missing Bank Director Charged with Embezzling $17 Million in Bank Funds

A director of a bank in southern Georgia who has been missing for two weeks has been charged in the Eastern District of New York with embezzling approximately $17 million in bank funds, which he had been entrusted to invest on the bank’s behalf. According to the complaint charging him with wire fraud, defendant Aubrey Lee Price, 46, disappeared after telling acquaintances that he had lost a large amount of money through trading activities and that he planned to kill himself. Anyone with information regarding Price’s whereabouts or the alleged crime is urged to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation office in New York at (212) 384-1000 or at ny1@ic.fbi.gov. Price was last sighted boarding a ferry boat in Key West, Florida, bound for Fort Myers, Florida, and has been missing since at least June 16, 2012.

The charge was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.

According to the complaint, Price became a director of the southern Georgia bank after PFG LLC, a company he controlled, bought a controlling portion of the bank’s stock in December 2010. In early 2011, Price took on the responsibility of investing the bank’s capital. Price opened brokerage accounts that cleared through a securities clearing and custodial firm in New York and told the bank’s management that he would invest the bank’s capital in treasury securities. The complaint alleges that, instead of investing the money as promised, Price fraudulently wired the bank’s funds to accounts that he personally controlled at other financial institutions and provided bank management with altered documents to make it appear as if he had invested the bank’s money in treasury securities.

According to the complaint, Price has told acquaintances that he owns real estate in Venezuela and Guatemala. Price recently traveled to Venezuela and returned to the United States from that trip on June 2, 2012.

The charge in the complaint is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted of wire fraud, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment. The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David C. Woll, Jr. and Brian Morris.

This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency task force to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch and, with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

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