Lee Farkas, the gay chairman of the home lender Taylor, Bean and Whitaker Mortgage Corp., stands accused of fleecing Colonial Bank of more than $1.5 billion in a scheme involving “fake or fraudulent mortgage loans,” which helped bring Colonial to its knees last year. The seven-year fraud, which has Farkas facing 16 criminal counts, is amazing in its scope, and horrifying in its reach.
“Prosecutors allege that in 2002, Taylor Bean began to incur significant overdrafts in its master bank account at Colonial Bank, triggered by its operating expenses,” reports ABC News. “According to the indictment and related court papers, Farkas and co-conspirators at Taylor Bean and Colonial began to cover up the overdrafts by ‘sweeping’ money into accounts through the sale of fake mortgage loan assets and pools of securities.”
Elaborates DoJ’s Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer:
The fraud alleged here is truly stunning in its scale and complexity. In 2009, TBW was one of the largest privately held mortgage lending companies in the United States. According to the indictment, the fraud began as early as 2002 in an effort to conceal significant TBW operating losses. It then evolved over the course of seven years as Mr. Farkas and his co-conspirators sought to misappropriate hundreds of millions of dollars from Colonial Bank and Ocala Funding, a mortgage lending facility that was controlled by TBW and financed by large banks.
According to the indictment, Mr. Farkas and his co-conspirators sold Colonial Bank more than $400 million in what amounted to fake mortgage assets. They also allegedly hid hundreds of millions of dollars worth of mortgage loans that were losing value or had no value from regulators, auditors, and others in fraudulent transactions designed to give the false appearance that the loans were being sold into the secondary mortgage market when, in fact, they were not. The indictment also alleges that Mr. Farkas and his TBW co-conspirators diverted approximately $1.5 billion from Ocala Funding in order to cover TBW’s mounting losses.
In late 2008, as TBW’s operating losses continued to grow, Mr. Farkas and his co-conspirators, through Colonial BancGroup, allegedly attempted to secure additional funding through the TARP program. That application included materially false information, and no TARP funds were released. Mr. Farkas and his co-conspirators allegedly went to great lengths to conceal their fraudulent activity and create the appearance that TBW was operating as a legitimate business. In reality, Mr. Farkas and his co-conspirators were allegedly stealing massive amounts of money to keep TBW afloat.
And while there are email records prosecutors are using in their case, Farkas and his co-conspirators allegedly used BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) to conduct the fraud to avoid a paper trail. Except, uh, there are accusations of mortgage fraud against his company going back at least to 2008?
Among Farkas’ assets DoJ is going after: Multiple Florida properties and luxury cars, “including a 1963 Rolls Royce, a 1929 Ford Model A and a 1961 Porsche 356.” Funny there’s no Bentleys mentioned; Bentley is Farkas’ middle name. Asshole.
Oh, and that private plane Farkas is posing in front of in the top photo? In an interview with Ocala Magazine last summer (pictured, right), Farkas says the one thing he can’t live without is “[m]y airplane, a Falcon 2000 jet. I don’t fly it, but I’m a great passenger.”
He also says, of his worst decision, “Too many to list one.” Indeed.