Integrity Bank was founded on "Christian principles" in 2000 in the Atlanta area. The bank's founder Steven Skow, a Lutheran, said "We weren't selling religion. We just managed the bank on godly principles, like the golden rule."
If that is true, then those religious principles must have included conspiracy, fraud, bribery and insider trading.
A federal indictment was unsealed last week against two former bank vice presidents, Douglas Ballard and Joseph Todd Foster, along with developer Guy Mitchell.
When government regulators shut down Integrity Bank in 2008, it was assumed that it was just another lender that had overvalued the real estate market.
"But this bank was robbed from the inside," said U.S. attorney Sally Quillian Yates.
From 2004 to 2006 loans of $80 million had been made to Mitchell who made few, if any, payments on them. Meanwhile, he was living a luxurious life, even purchasing a private island with his borrowed funds. In return for lenience, Ballard was paid more than $230,000 in bribes. Ballard and Foster are also accused of insider trading, for when they realized the bank was going to fail, they dumped Integrity stock, making millions for themselves before its collapse, leaving the bank's shareholders and the FDIC holding the bag.
Skow, who left the bank in 2007 and is not implicated in the indictment, said he lost $22 million in stock.
Skow said the bank gave 10% of annual profits to churches and faith-based charities, donating $1.7 million in 2007. The bank gave free Bibles to customers. Employees prayed together at meeting.
I wonder if they were praying for their own personal gain instead of for god's help in running an ethical business. And maybe they they were just kidding when they named the bank "Integrity."
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