Delaware Public Media

Wilmington Trust settles federal fraud case

Oct 10, 2017

Wilmington Trust no longer faces a federal fraud trial.

The company announced Tuesday it has reached a multi-million dollar settlement with U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware in the case against it stemming from the 2008 financial crisis.

The company faced criminal charges of fraud, conspiracy and making false statements to federal regulators in 2009 and 2010 in the wake to the 2008 financial crisis.

Wilmington Trust will pay $60 million dollars to settle the claims against it.  That includes $16 million dollars it already paid U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in a related action.  And the company does not admit any liability.

"We believe today’s resolution accomplished three important objectives," said Acting U.S. Attorney David Weiss in a statement. "First, we secured a substantial payment for victims who sustained losses as a result of what transpired. Second, Wilmington Trust accepted responsibility for its actions. And third, if possible, we wanted to avoid the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction for the bank, which could have resulted in the loss of jobs and revenue for our community."

Four former company executives, Robert Harra, David Gibson, William North and Kevyn Rakowski,  still face charges.  Their trial will proceed, but has been postponed until March of next year.

The company and the executives were accused of hiding hundreds of millions of dollars of past-due loans in quarterly reports made to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve in 2009 and 2010. Those numbers are also available to stockholders to assess the health of the company.

In being named as a defended in the case, Wilmington Trust became the only financial institution that received federal bailout dollars during the 2008 financial crisis to face criminal sanctions. It received $330 million dollars from the federal TARP program.

M&T Bank bought Wilmington Trust at a steep discount in 2010 after sour real estate loans left the company in dire financial straits, and assumed Wilmington Trust's assets and liabilities as part of that deal.