Two Plead Guilty to Federal Wire Fraud Connected to Scheme to Defraud The Department of Veteran Affairs
NEW ORLEANS – The United States Attorney’s Office announced that ARVIND “MIKE” VIRA (“VIRA”), age 74, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, pled guilty today to a years-long conspiracy with First NBC Bank president Ashton J. Ryan to defraud the New Orleans-based bank that failed in April 2017.
According to court documents, in 2006, Ryan lobbied VIRA to move his business accounts to First NBC Bank. VIRA agreed and became a customer of First NBC Bank. Thereafter, Ryan provided VIRA with preferential treatment. Although VIRA was assigned another loan officer, Ryan acted as his de facto loan officer at the bank. Ryan provided VIRA with low interest rates for VIRA’s loans. He also ensured that VIRA received high interest rates on his savings and checking accounts. Ryan personally approved 3% interest rates for savings and checking accounts held by VIRA, his businesses, and his family members. Ryan instructed VIRA to inflate his assets on bank loan documents, and VIRA complied by claiming to have substantial real estate and outside bank accounts that did not exist.
VIRA, in turn, provided personal loans to Ryan at Ryan’s request. Ryan, knowing that such a loan relationship was prohibited by banking regulations, instructed VIRA to conceal this personal loan relationship from First NBC Bank employees. During an FDIC regulatory exam in December 2012, FDIC examiners discovered that Ryan had borrowed money from First NBC Bank using VIRA’s loan proceeds. When examiners questioned him, Ryan admitted to their relationship, but claimed that he had not been aware that the source of the funds were First NBC Bank loan proceeds.
In order to further conceal the loans that he made to Ryan, VIRA misrepresented or omitted the interest payments he received from Ryan on his personal tax returns from 2011 through 2015. From 2011 through 2017, VIRA received approximately $1,220,271.07 in profits from Ryan’s interest payments and from Ryan’s preferential treatment at First NBC Bank.
“The FBI and our law enforcement partners have dedicated significant time and resources toward investigating the failure of FNBC, which resulted in nearly a billion dollar loss to the FDIC. Individuals like Mr. Vira who engage in fraudulent schemes that impact the security of financial institutions are being held accountable. His guilty plea today should be a deterrent to others who would attempt to defraud our nation's banking system,” said Bryan Vorndran, FBI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge.
“We are pleased to work with our law enforcement partners in bringing to justice those who conspire to defraud financial institutions regulated and supervised by the Federal Reserve Board,” said Stephen Donnelly, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Eastern Region, Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
“We are pleased to join our law enforcement colleagues in bringing Mr. Vira to justice,” stated Laurie Younger, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
VIRA pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371 and 1344. The maximum penalties that may be imposed at sentencing are five years in prison; a fine of $250,000 or the greater of twice the gain to VIRA or twice the loss to any victim; and up to three years of supervised release.
U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown set VIRA’s sentencing for January 7, 2020.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General; and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sharan E. Lieberman, Matthew R. Payne, Nicholas D. Moses, and J. Ryan McLaren are in charge of the prosecution.
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