Receiver in Cook’s $194M Ponzi Case Sues Associated Bank
The receiver locating assets in Trevor Cook’s $194 million Ponzi scheme has reportedly filed a lawsuit against Associated Bank.
According to a Star Tribune report, receiver R.J. Zayed said in the complaint that Cook and his associates needed “a cooperative bank” that would allow sham deposits to be posted under the names of fictitious business entities and create account documentation with false information in order to skirt federal money-laundering and anti-terrorism funding laws—and Associated Bank allegedly filled that role.
The bank—which is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, but has a large Minnesota presence—reportedly took in more than $79 million in investor funds.
Zayed is suing on behalf of the entities that Cook used to defraud the investors and accusing the bank of complicity rather than negligence, according to the Star Tribune. The lawsuit reportedly says that Cook and two others were advised by former Associated Bank Vice President Lien Sarles, 30, of St. Paul, on how to conduct money transfers to avoid “regulatory difficulties.”
Zayed reportedly alleges that the bank either knowingly helped facilitate or was willfully indifferent to the Ponzi scheme, ignoring red flags of fraud and insolvency and violating the Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering guidelines.
Associated Bank, which didn’t provide a comment to the Star Tribune, is accused of aiding and abetting fraud in its pursuit of profit, breaching its fiduciary duties, and aiding and abetting the conversion of investor assets, the Minneapolis newspaper reported. The suit seeks unspecified monetary and punitive damages to be proven at trial. To read the full Star Tribune story, click here.
Earlier this month, three men were sentenced for their roles in Cook’s Ponzi scheme. Among them is Jason “Bo” Beckman of Plymouth, who received 30 years in federal prison. Co-defendants Gerald Durand and Christopher Pettengill, meanwhile, were sentenced to 20 years and 7.5 years, respectively, for their roles in the scheme.
The three men were also “solely and jointly” ordered to pay $155.4 million in restitution to victims of the Ponzi scheme. (A total of $155.4 million must be collectively paid; until the sum is paid, however, each defendant is in effect responsible for the full amount.)
Cook was sentenced in 2010 to 25 years in prison for orchestrating the scheme, which is said to have defrauded more than 725 people.