Professional race car driver Scott Tucker is working on settling a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit accusing him of involvement in a payday lending scheme.
Lawyers for Tucker, who competes on U.S. and European circuits, said in a federal court filing in Las Vegas that theyre working to resolve the FTCs claims involving online lending companies the agency says Tucker controls.
Federal prosecutors, meanwhile, are deciding whether to bring criminal charges, according to court filings.
The criminal probe against Tucker originated in 2012 during a crackdown by U.S. authorities against perceived abuses among online payday lenders.
In an April 2012 lawsuit, the FTC accused the defendants of deceptive practices, including failing to disclose the true costs of loans to borrowers and falsely threatening consumers with arrest or prosecutions if they failed to pay. It was one of two lawsuits brought by the FTC against a payday lender that claimed an affiliation with Native American tribes exempted them from state laws because of their sovereign status.
The defendants argued that they were exempt from FTC enforcement because of their tribe affiliation. They also claimed immunity from state legal proceedings. The FTC has stated that the connections to tribes often are tenuous. AMG is chartered under the laws of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma.
One of the main arguments was that the FTC lacked authority to enforce the FTC Act, Truth-in-Lending Act and Electronic Fund Transfer Act against tribes and tribal businesses. U.S Magistrate Judge V. Cam Ferenbach concluded that the FTC Act "gives the FTC the authority to bring suit against Indian Tribes, arms of Indian Tribes and employees and contractors of arms of Indian Tribes, and likewise found that the FTC had authority to bring its TILA and EFTA claims.
The FTC said AMG and its related entities were controlled by Tucker. It said Tucker, with his brother, Blaine, transferred more than $40 million collected from borrowers to racing team Level 5 Motorsports for sponsorship fees. AMG, which serviced the loans, and MNE Services Inc., which lent to consumers under names including Ameriloan and US Fast Cash, agreed to a $21 million settlement in January, leaving Tucker and various related defendants to face off with the FTC.
A settlement conference with the FTC, Tucker and other defendants is expected in September. Any deal could include a monetary component as well as an injunction, according to a magistrate judge's summary.
The discussions are taking place during a related criminal investigation run by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's office. Tucker is "a - if not the - target of the investigation," his lawyers wrote in the filing. Representatives for the FTC and Bharara's office declined to comment. Lawyers for Tucker did not respond to requests for comment.
Blaine Tucker, 48, was found dead in March 2014 at a Leawood, Kan. shopping center. An autopsy confirmed suicide was the cause of death, the Kansas City Star reported.