Officers of Failed Premier Bank Indicted

CHICAGO (CN) – Officers of an Illinois bank accused in a $70 million fraud face criminal charges, Attorney General Lisa Madigan said.
     The defendants are charged in a long-running scheme that cost the U.S. Treasury Department $6.8 million from the Troubled Assets Relief Program and cost the FDIC $64.1 million when Premier Bank, of suburban Wilmette, failed on March 23, 2012. The defendants hid the bank’s financial condition from state regulators, and bank owner Zulfikar Esmail ran a criminal shakedown scheme by demanding bribes for business loans and lines of credit, according to the indictment.
     Madigan said Esmail also ordered construction and improvements to his Evanston home and rental properties he owned, and an underground tunnel built at his home.
     Esmail told the contractor to prepare fraudulent invoices to show that the work was done at the bank, the attorney general said.
     “The perpetrators of this criminal enterprise are charged with using taxpayer funds to further their own shakedown scheme at time when our country was on the brink of disaster,” Madigan said in a statement. “Their brazen actions to cover up this fraudulent scheme led to the failure of Premier Bank at the expense of its trusting customers and American taxpayers.”
     The defendants were arrested at their homes on July 10 and were arraigned in Cook County Court on Aug. 6.
     Esmail, 70, of Evanston, was charged with financial institution fraud, organizing a financial crimes enterprise, continuing a financial crimes enterprise, theft by deception, commercial bribery of a financial institution and conspiracy to commit a financial crime.
     Charged with financial institution fraud, continuing a financial crimes enterprise and conspiracy to commit a financial crime were Shamim Esmail, 65, of Evanston; Robert McCarty, 51, of Geneva; and William Brannin, 53, of Chicago.
     Zulfikar Esmail and Shamim Esmail were released on a collective $850,000 bond. McCarty was released on $400,000 bond, and Brannin on a $350,000 bond.

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