The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into possible fraud at Ozark Bank in Ozark, Mo., following the recent shooting death of the wife of a top executive.

The agency began an investigation into suspected bank extortion on Sept. 28, after chief financial officer George Revelle told police that his wife, Lisa, had been shot and killed in a botched extortion attempt, said Tom Den Ouden, supervisor of the FBI in Springfield, Mo.

Mr. Revelle told police that his wife was shot in their bedroom when at least two persons tried to force him to go to the bank to give them money, according to reports in the Springfield NewsLeader.

Management of the $98-million-asset bank suspected something amiss in its books and the FBI on Sept. 30 initiated another investigation into the discrepancies for possible fraud. Such an investigation could cover embezzlement, extortion, or misappropriated funds, Mr. Den Ouden said.

He would not be more specific about what the agency is investigating at the bank. He said the investigation could take six months to a year.

Meanwhile, Mr. Revelle is on a leave of absence from the bank, but he is still employed there, bank president Fred Hedgpeth told the News-Leader. Mr. Hedgpeth did not return calls to American Banker. However, he told the News-Leader that Ozark Bank's customers should not be concerned about the investigation and that the "integrity and safety and soundness of the bank has not been comproraised nor will it be."

Ozark Bank is highly profitable, according to first-quarter numbers. The bank earned $309,000 and returned 1.25% on average assets. Its loan portfolio is also extraordinarily clean, with just 0.01% of total assets listed as nonperforming.

Murders are rare in Ozark, a county seat of 4,240 people, and about 15 miles from Springfield.

"Everybody's kind of shocked" about the death of Mrs. Revelle, a well-liked elementary school teacher, said Jim Riggins, president of Capital Bank of Southwest Missouri, Ozark.

The allegations of extortion and fraud serve as another reminder to bankers to emphasize protective measures, Mr. Riggins said.

"It's probably made everybody a little more in tune to their own security," he said.

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