Liberty Bell Bank (LBBB) in Marlton, N.J., said it has been victimized by a check-kiting incident, which widened its loss in the second quarter.
The $174 million-asset bank said it took a loan chargeoff of $2.1 million, or 60 cents per share, in the quarter, as a result of the check kiting. Its net loss for the quarter was $2.6 million, or 77 cents per share, compared with a loss of $796,000, or 26 cents, a year earlier.
Liberty Bell said it has not finalized the final amount of its losses from the incident, "which may be significantly less than the amount we had to recognize for financial accounting purposes," William Dunkelberg, chairman, said in a statement issued Monday. Liberty is "actively pursuing all means" to recover the funds from the commercial customer, which are secured by receivables from U.S. government-related agencies, he said.
Other banks have been victimized in the same check-kiting case, Liberty Bell said without identifying the other banks. Roma Financial (ROMA) in Robbinsville, N.J., recently reported a second-quarter loss of $1.1 million, partly as a result of the check-kiting scheme perpetrated by a commercial client. The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"There were several banks involved in a very complex fraud, and we believe all banks sustained substantial losses," Dunkelberg said.
In an unrelated incident, Liberty Bell's co-founder and former chairman, Michael Kwasnik, was indicted in November 2011 by a state superior court in New Jersey on charges that he stole more than $1 million from a 96-year-old woman in Cherry Hill, N.J., after she hired him to form a family trust. Kwasnik later defaulted on a loan from Beneficial Mutual Bancorp (BNCL) in which Liberty Bell stock was pledged as collateral. Beneficial obtained a stake in Liberty Bell after the default and later sold the shares to a private investor.