Timothy P. Owens, the former CEO of Voyager Bank, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of lying to federal examiners in 2009 about $5.5 million in personal loans he took from the Eden Prairie bank and obstruction of a subsequent investigation.
According to the eight-count indictment handed up Monday:
A Minnesota Commerce Department examination of Voyager in 2009 turned up “substantial loans” between Voyager Bank and Voyager Financial officers and directors. That prompted an examination by the Federal Reserve Board, regulator of bank holding companies, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), to determine the risk of the insider loans to the federally insured institution.
Owens received a July 7, 2009, letter from the Federal Reserve Board sent to the Voyager board about the status of more than $5.5 million in four 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 amount of borrowings, that the policies had been approved by the Voyager board and that he was the sole beneficiary of a $3.6 million family trust that he could use to reduce his debt level, and other false information.
Owens is scheduled to make an initial appearance Dec. 30 in U.S. District Court.
In a written statement Wednesday, Owens said he was negligent in 2009 but did not defraud the bank.
“The claim of alleged wrongdoing is in my view misguided and unfortunate, but in the end the not surprising product of 18 months of secret meetings between Voyager directors and officers with Federal bank regulators and investigators where I was excluded from attendance, despite my being a director of Voyager during much of that time period,” he said in the statement. “I believe they did this in order to convince banking regulators to prosecute me in order to hide these officers’ and directors’ misconduct.
Owens was fired as CEO in July 2011, according to court documents. He sued Voyager in August 2011 after he was unable repay his loans to the bank.
A Hennepin County judge referred the Owens case to a panel of the American Arbitration Association in 2012, at the request of defendant Voyager Bank and its directors. The arbitrators awarded Owens more than $3 million in damages based on alleged defamatory statements made by Voyager and the individual directors, but the panel found that Owens’ “lack of veracity and the deceptive nature of his communications to the Federal Reserve were indefensible and blameworthy,” according to a February 2014 order by Hennepin County District Judge Thomas Sipkins.
Sipkins, in the February order, granted the motion of Voyager to vacate the $3 million-plus arbitration award because he found that one of the arbitrators failed to disclose his relationship with the law firm Anthony Ostlund Baer & Louwagie, which represents Owens.
Scott Weaver, president and general counsel of Voyager and one of the people Owens sued, released a statement Wednesday that said Voyager parted ways with Owens in 2011 and will continue to cooperate with the federal investigation.
In 2011, Voyager accused Owens of bilking the bank to finance a lifestyle that included a $4.5 million Lake Minnetonka home and $2.5 million cabin.
Earlier this month, Anchor Bank of St. Paul announced it is buying Voyager Bank, which has 65 employees and assets of $336 million.