A federal appeals court in Philadelphia has overturned fraud and conspiracy convictions for four former Wilmington Trust executives after it was the only financial institution to face criminal charges tied to the federal bank bailout.
Former bank president Robert Harra, former CFO David Gibson, former Chief Credit Office William North, former and former Controller Kevyn Rakowski. All four were convicted of fraud, conspiracy and lying to regulators and investors in failures that led to the bank's collapse.
In 2018, Harra and Gibson were each sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay $300,000 in fines while Andrews got four-and-a-half years, and North got three years. All four were free on appeal.
“My client and our team are obviously very happy, and incredibly relieved, that the Third Circuit panel unanimously agreed that these convictions were wholly unfair and unjust. I never understood why this case was brought," Michael Kelly, Harra's attorney told WDEL in a statement. "In my view, this case was an incredible waste of taxpayer dollars that literally ruined the lives of four innocent people. Rob and his family have endured nothing less than a nightmare for almost 10 years now."
In its decision, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a re-trial on securities fraud and conspiracy charges.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney David Weiss said he's disappointed by the appeals court decision.
"The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed defendants’ convictions for lying to the Federal Reserve, the SEC, and the public about millions of dollars in past-due loans. In a matter of first impression, the Court held that the government was required to establish that the defendants’ statements were false under any “objectively reasonable” interpretation of the applicable reporting instructions – even in a circumstance where a defendant never believed in that interpretation and intended to lie to the regulators all along," he said.
Weiss added, they're considering re-trying the case.
"We are currently analyzing the court’s opinion and evaluating our options, including, as the Court of Appeals authorized, retrying the defendants for conspiracy and securities fraud.