A former employee of U.S Bank in Ohio has been charged with taking bribes from debt collectors.
Federal prosecutors have charged Wilbur Tate, now of Dacula, Ga., with conspiracy to commit bank bribery, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said Wednesday. SIGTARP was involved with the investigation because U.S. Bank's parent, Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp (USB), was a Tarp recipient.
The indictment claims that Tate received cash and gifts from employees at the Oxford Collections Agency, a defunct debt collection company, in exchange for U.S. Bank's business. The debt collectors allegedly sent cigars and monthly cash payments of up to $5,000 cash to Tate's home for several years beginning in August 2008.
Three Oxford Collection Agency employees pled guilty in December to defrauding Webster Bank, a subsidiary of Webster Financial (WBS) in Waterbury, Conn., which also received Tarp funds. The three men kept for themselves money they collected on behalf of Webster and other clients.
Tate was an assistant vice president at U.S. Bank from 2004 through 2011, specializing in outsourcing and debt collections, according to SIGTARP. He is currently a vice president at energy-management firm Tecmer, according to the company's website.
A U.S Bank spokeswoman said the bank will fully cooperate with the authorities on the matter.
"Bribes to Tate allegedly began with expensive cigars and escalated to cash payments in cigar boxes of as much as $5,000 per month," Special Inspector General for Tarp Christy Romero said in the news release. "When Tate's 'cigars' were late, on multiple occasions Tate allegedly reminded Oxford executives that payment was due. SIGTARP and our law enforcement partners will continue to safeguard taxpayers' TARP funds and bring to justice those responsible for fraud related to TARP."
Tate was released Wednesday on a $50,000 bond.
SIGTARP, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service and the Connecticut Securities, Commodities, and Investor Fraud Task Force all contributed to the investigation.