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Taylor, Bean & Whitaker's new leaders accuse former executives of "dishonest acts"

Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp.'s new leadership alleges that former chairman Lee Farkas withdrew more than $50 million from the business for his personal benefit and for companies he controlled.

The Ocala-based company said Desiree Brown, a former receptionist turned treasurer, was paid more than $1.5 million in bonuses since January 2006, while former chief financial officer Delton De'Armas and the consulting firms he owned were paid hefty sums, allegedly to help cover up the scheme.

The allegations surfaced as the fallen mortgage lending giant sifts through company records after shutting its doors and filing for bankruptcy in August.

In a bankruptcy filing, the company's current leadership said there was "substantial evidence to support the proposition that Mr. Farkas and Ms. Brown committed numerous dishonest acts," which "resulted in their receiving improper personal financial gain for which TBW suffered direct financial loss."

The new leadership includes Neil Luria of Navigant Capital Advisors, who serves as Taylor Bean's chief restructuring officer.

The company believes other individuals, including some formerly in top management positions, "acted in concert" with Farkas, Brown and De'Armas.

Based on this information, a complaint was filed Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Jacksonville by underwriters at Lloyd's, the company's London-based insurer. The suit was first reported online Monday by the Wall Street Journal.

Those underwriters claim they should not be held responsible for losses due to the company's alleged misconduct.

Efforts to reach Farkas, Brown and De'Armas were unsuccessful.

Taylor Bean, once the nation's largest independent mortgage home lender, toppled last summer.

On Aug. 3, federal agents raided Taylor Bean's headquarters in connection with an ongoing investigation of Colonial Bank, one of the company's main business partners.

The next day, the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development suspended Taylor Bean's underwriting approval; the Government National Mortgage Association, or Ginnie Mae, terminated its authority to service its $26 billion mortgage portfolio; and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., or Freddie Mac, terminated the company's eligibility to service its $51.2 billion portfolio.

Taylor Bean laid off 2,000 employees Aug. 5 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection three weeks later.

In February, Taylor Bean's new leadership submitted a preliminary report on its review of the books, saying the company lacked a basic accounting framework.

"TBW did not have a comprehensive inventory asset management system," the filing says. The filing says that the $50 million that went to Farkas was in addition to his salary and bonuses.

Brown was paid $704,890.21 in "bonuses" since Jan. 1, 2006, plus payments of:

• $697,137.13 for purchasing a waterfront real estate lot.

• $49,435 to pay for her child's education.

• $66,500 for unknown purposes.

De'Armas and one or more consulting firms he ran were paid $100,000 and $175,000 for auditing Taylor Bean's 2008 financial statements.

The final report, known as a "proof of loss," is due June 15. On Friday, Taylor Bean requested an extra month.

Taylor, Bean & Whitaker's new leaders accuse former executives of "dishonest acts" 05/18/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 10:38pm]
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