The former CEO of Voyager Bank pleaded guilty Thursday to obstructing an investigation by federal regulators into millions of dollars’ worth of loans he took from the since-sold Eden Prairie lender.
Timothy P. Owens, 55, who was fired several years ago, had been indicted last December. He is expected to be sentenced later this year by U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery.
“Financial and banking professionals have a responsibility to respond truthfully to regulatory inquiries,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger. “This defendant violated his responsibility and broke the law.”
A Minnesota Commerce Department examination of Voyager in 2009 turned up “substantial” loans from Voyager Bank to officers and directors of the bank’s parent company, Voyager Financial Services Corp. That prompted an examination by the Federal Reserve Board, regulator of bank holding companies, to determine the risk of the insider loans to the federally insured institution, according to a federal indictment of Owens last December.
According to last December’s federal charges, Owens received a July 2009, post-examination letter from the Federal Reserve about several million in loans to Owens and a $7,500 line of credit. Owens did not inform the board of the letter and in August 2009 delivered “false and misleading” information to the regulator about the borrowings, that stricter policies had been approved by the Voyager board and that he was the beneficiary of a $3.6 million family trust that would reduce his debt level, according to the charges.
According to the guilty plea and other documents filed in court, Owens’ response to the Federal Reserve was false and misleading, because he only identified three loans that had been disclosed in the June examination, but not a fourth $1 million loan. And he wrote an incorrect response that he made to appear had been reviewed and approved by the Voyager Financial board.
The purpose of the misrepresentations, according to the guilty plea, was to portray inaccurately Owens’ financial circumstances and ability to repay the loans by misstating his wealth and liabilities. That caused the Fed to end its examination of Voyager.
In a written statement last year, Owens said he was negligent but did not intend to defraud the bank and that he was the fall guy for board members trying to escape the wrath of regulators. His lawyer was unavailable for comment Thursday.
In 2011, Voyager fired Owens and accused him of fraud to finance a lifestyle that included a $4.5 million Lake Minnetonka home and $2.5 million cabin.
Anchor Bank of St. Paul last winter bought Voyager Bank, which had 65 employees and assets of $336 million. The acquisition, for an unspecified price, gave Anchor a gateway to the southwestern suburbs.