Taupa Lithuanian CU Former CEO On the Lam
As of July 18, former Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union CEO Alex Spirikaitis was still at large after a police came up empty after standoff at his suburban Cleveland home. Authorities turned to the public, asking for assistance in his capture.
“We are really making a plea to the public to look at his picture and if they see him or have any idea as to his whereabouts, to give us a call,” FBI Special Agent Vicki Anderson told Credit Union Times. The FBI has released Spirikaitis’ driver’s license photo in an attempt to apprehend him.
Local police thought they were in a standoff with Spirikaitis the evening of July 16 after arriving at his home to arrest him at around 8 p.m. However, when authorities entered the home the next morning, he was not there.
Anderson said when police approached the home that evening, Spirikaitis’ relatives gave every indication the CEO–accused of embezzlement in the failure of the $23.6 million credit union–was inside.
“Family members left the house with us and we thought, from the information we gathered, that he was not going to willingly come out,” she said.
For safety’s sake for the residential neighborhood, Anderson said authorities waited until daybreak for tactical teams to move in. Additionally, Anderson said, the said the size of the large home played a part in the decision to wait until daylight before entering.
The official charge the FBI has brought against Spirikaitis, making false credit institution entries, is an unusual one. Anderson said the charge falls under the embezzlement category, and because it is one that could be quickly proven, FBI officials utilized the charge so authorities could quickly execute an arrest warrant.
Still, Anderson said authorities did not expect Spirikaitis to pose a flight risk.
The FBI agent also said Spirikaitis may have not acted alone.
“This is a very early on investigation, so we have a lot more work to do,” she said. “If people have information about Mr. Spirikaitis and his whereabouts, but also about any dealings that occurred [at the credit union], and wish to come in and talk about it, we’re more than open to that.”
The drama followed the July 12 liquidation of the $23.6 million credit union, which was seized by the Ohio Department of Financial Institutions and handed over to the NCUA after determining the 1,154-member cooperative was insolvent and had no prospect for restoring viable operations. Fraud was suspected after a review of the credit union’s financial performance reports posted on the NCUA’s website revealed 10.31% net worth, 0.78% delinquencies, no charge-offs and 0.42% ROA as of March 31. One abnormal financial statistic was cost of funds, which at 0.87% was much higher than the peer average of 0.36%.
While the failed credit union’s website revealed it was paying above average dividends to members, 0.01% to 0.10% APY for checking, 0.15% APY for savings and as much as 0.40% APY on a $25,000 or larger certificate, the amounts did not justify the cost of funds.
And, liquidity was not an issue, indicating the credit union did not have outstanding borrowings that were driving up cost of funds. The credit union’s loan-to-share ratio as of March 31 was less than 35%, far below peer averages.
Taupa Lithuanian did report a considerable amount of cash on its books, more than $15 million as of March 31, with just $729,595 in investments. Total loans were $7.4 million during that period.
The standoff, widely reported by local Cleveland news outlets, did not appear to trigger a run on deposits. A Credit Union Times correspondent visited the credit union’s headquarters July 17 and encountered an armed security guard standing behind a glass door of the office, housed in a non-descript brick building on Cleveland’s east side.
The guard said the credit union had been closed, and he had been handing out single-page informational leaflets to members.