Former St. Paul Croatian FCU President/CEO Anthony Raguz, whose actions helped trigger one of the largest credit union failures in history, pleaded guilty to six counts, including bank fraud, money laundering and bank bribery in federal court in Cleveland.
Raguz, one of 16 people charged by federal prosecutors in connection with last year’s collapse of the credit union, issued more than 1,000 fraudulent loans totaling more than $70 million to over 300 account holders at St. Paul from 2000 to April 2010.
According to the plea agreement, Raguz admitted that he made the loans without requiring collateral and knew the borrowers had few assets, no employment history and often used fictitious names. He accepted bribes totaling $1 million to approve the loans, according to the original indictment. The NCUA conserved and then closed the $240 million credit union, located in the Cleveland suburb of Eastlake, Ohio, last year and the failure cost the NCUSIF $170 million. http://www.cutimes.com/2010/05/12/ncua-closes-st-paul-croatian-fcu
“People ought to know that senior bank officials are being held accountable,” Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio said in a statement. “Not every bank failure over the last five years is the result of criminal conduct, but when we find criminal conduct, we are absolutely dedicated to investigating and prosecuting those offenses.”
One of the largest recipients of the loans was Koljo Nikolovski who has been charged with 10 counts of bank fraud, three counts of bank bribery and five counts of money laundering. Nikololovski, who has been described in media reports as an organized crime figure in Macedonia, is accused of fraudulently obtaining loans totaling $5.6 million. Raguz is scheduled to be sentenced on January 4, 2012 but he surrendered to authorities to begin serving time in prison immediately after entering his plea.