FDIC, Georgia Authorities Shut Down Bank That Once Held Proceeds From Alleged ASD/Golden Panda Ad Builder Scheme
Bartow County Bank, which once held deposits tied to Golden Panda Ad Builder and the alleged AdSurfDaily Ponzi scheme, has failed in Georgia.
The Georgia Department of Banking and Finance closed the small bank today and appointed the FDIC receiver. Bartow once held $644,266 linked to Golden Panda, federal prosecutors said in a December 2008 forfeiture complaint.
Bartow’s failure is expected to cost the Deposit Insurance Fund nearly $70 million, the FDIC said. Georgia leads the United States in bank failures.
Golden Panda President Clarence Busby and his daughter, Dawn Stowers, voluntarily ceded the money in the Bartow account to the government more than two years ago, according to court filings. U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer formerly ordered the money forfeited on March 31, 2010.
Golden Panda was the purported “Chinese” arm of the Florida-based ASD “autosurfing” enterprise, which prosecutors said was a $110 million Ponzi scheme. Most of the money from the scheme was routed through Bank of America, according to court filings.
Busby, who was implicated by the SEC in three prime-bank schemes during the 1990s, advised Collyer in 2008 that Golden Panda was formed after a “relaxing” day of fishing with Bowdoin and a minister on a Georgia Lake.
Along with the more than $644,000 in Golden Panda cash seized in the December 2008 forfeiture case, prosecutors also seized an $800,000 building in Florida for which Bowdoin had paid cash, according to court filings.
Prosecutors also seized a boat, cars and other equipment in the December 2008 complaint. In a forfeiture complaint filed in August 2008, prosecutors seized nearly $80 million held in Bank of America accounts, including $65.8 million in 10 accounts in Bowdoin’s name, and $14 million in Golden Panda-related accounts.
Collyer ordered Bowdoin’s money forfeited in January 2010. Golden Panda’s money was ordered forfeited in July 2009.
As was the case with many things associated with ASD, the December 2008 forfeiture case turned into Theatre of the Absurd. Although Bowdoin family members were named beneficiaries of much of the fraud outlined in the December complaint, neither Bowdoin nor a family member entered claims for the seized property.
Regardless, Bowdoin filed an appeal after Collyer ordered the money and property forfeited.
The FDIC said today that Bartow County Bank will repoen tomorrow as a branch of Hamilton State Bank. Bartow’s failure will cost the Deposit Insurance Fund an estimated $69.5 million.
“The FDIC and Hamilton State Bank entered into a loss-share transaction on $247.5 million of Bartow County Bank’s assets,” the FDIC said. “Hamilton State Bank will share in the losses on the asset pools covered under the loss-share agreement.”
Four other U.S. banks failed today, bringing the year-to-date total to 34. In 2007, only three banks failed in the United States.
Eight banks have failed in Georgia so far this year. Two have failed in Florida.
After the assets of ASD and Golden Panda were seized, some members immediately turned their attention to promoting other autosurfs. They also pushed HYIPs and cash-gifting schemes, saying the miserable businesses were a good way to make up for ASD/Golden Panda losses.
When an MLM program known as MPB Today launched in Florida last year, promoters urged foreclosure subjects and Food Stamp recipients to part with their money to join the business. Records show that one of the banks MPB Today used was operating under a consent agreement with the FDIC.
MPB Today said last year that it had recruited more than 30,000 members.
Florida has one of the highest foreclosure rates and bank-failure rates in the United States.