Ex-Regions Equipment Finance Execs Indicted in Bribery, Fraud Scheme

A federal grand jury indicted two former Regions Bank employees for conspiracy in a $5 million bribery and wire fraud scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Roger C. Stanton.

A 39-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges Richard A. Henderson and Philip H. Cooper with conspiracy, bank bribery, wire fraud affecting a financial institution and money laundering.

According to the news release, Henderson and Cooper were Regions’ employees, serving as officers of Regions Equipment Financing (REFCO), a part of the bank that offered business customers various financing tools, including equipment financing and lease options. Henderson began as senior vice president and finance manager of REFCO and was promoted in April 2012 to its chief administrative officer. Cooper worked as senior vice president and asset manager of REFCO.

According to the indictment, Henderson and Cooper recruited a third man, Jesse S. Ellis, who has agreed to plead guilty to charges arising from this scheme, to establish a company that would enter an agreement with REFCO to provide residual value insurance, a type of insurance designed to manage asset value risk. Ellis had no experience providing residual value insurance. The defendants directed REFCO’s residual value insurance business to Ellis’ new company, and he, in return, split the proceeds of the business with Henderson and Cooper, according to the charges. The defendants concealed from Regions that they were receiving money as a result of directing REFCO’s residual value insurance business to the company Ellis established.

Between September 2010 and November 2015, REFCO paid Ellis’ company, Residual Assurance, about $5.1 million, most often through interstate wire transfer into the new company’s account at Wells Fargo Bank, the indictment charges. Henderson received about $1.8 million as a result of the scheme and Cooper received about $1.5 million, according to the indictment. The indictment also seeks forfeiture from the defendants in those amounts.

The indictment includes 29 money laundering counts against Henderson and Cooper. The defendants moved the money generated by the scheme among several bank accounts to conceal the ownership and control of the proceeds of the scheme.

The maximum penalty for conspiracy is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for bank bribery is 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million or three times the value of what was solicited or accepted, whichever is greater. The maximum penalty for wire fraud affecting a financial institution is 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, and for money laundering and money laundering conspiracy, the maximum penalty is 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater.

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Terry Mulreany
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