The former board president of the $23.6 million Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union disputed statements made by another former board member to Credit Union Times, and provided new details about the failed credit union’s governance.
Vytautas Kliorys took over as president of the board of the Cleveland-based institution, which was liquidated July 12 by the NCUA due to fraud, in April 2012. He said he was still president of the board at the time of the liquidation.
Kliorys said he disagreed with statements from other former and dismissed volunteers who say they were duped by former CEO Alex R. Spirikaitis, who allegedly defrauded the credit union and caused its failure. Court documents state Spirikaitis forged deposit account statements from the credit union’s accounts at the $4.5 billion Corporate One Federal Credit Union, and used the stolen money to construct a $1.5 million home.
While the former head of the board agrees that Spirikaitis allegedly committed fraud, Kliorys said it was the credit union’s third party audit firm and examiners who were duped, not volunteers.
“The board believed that it had all the procedures in place to prevent this sort of event,” he told Credit Union Times. “We had received excellent or very good reports from the annual state exams and NCUA’s most recent exam last summer, and we had even gone a step further than required and used an outside CPA firm to perform annual independent audits.”
All three entities concluded the credit union was in good shape, and there was no hint or suggestion that any embezzlement or inappropriate financial transactions were being conducted by Spirikaitis, he said.
Furthermore, Kliorys said, it was the responsibility of the outside auditors to review and confirm the Corporate One statements, not the board’s.
“The corporate credit union bank statements, which were apparently manufactured by the manager, were never presented to the board,” he said.
Vincas Urbaitis, a 25-year volunteer who retired from the Taupa Lithuanian board in 2011, incorrectly told Credit Union Times that Kliorys was turned away by the NCUA after he attempted to enter the credit union after it had been seized.
“I went to the credit union’s office a few days after the closing,” Kliorys said. “The NCUA regulators immediately agreed to talk to me.”
However, he said, since then volunteers have not had access to the credit union or any of its records. Kliorys said he has been told by NCUA officials that it could take up to six months for the regulator to complete its full forensic accounting process and reveal the full extent of the fraudulent activity.
Spirikaitis has been on the run since July 16 following what police thought was a standoff at his Solon home. However, when authorities entered the home the next morning, he was not there. The FBI said he was last seen in Cleveland as well as the suburbs of Solon and neighboring Twinsburg and may have fled to Canada.
According to U.S. District court documents, a FBI special agent hand delivered a “notice of complaint for forfeiture” and other foreclosure papers on Aug. 7 to Julie A. Spirikaitis, his wife and co-owner of the home.
The FBI has also posted a foreclosure notice at the home in Solon, about 25 miles southeast of Cleveland. The notice gives Mrs. Spirikaitis about a month to respond to the foreclosure complaint in U.S. District Court in Akron.
In November 2012, Spirikaitis moved into the new home with his wife and their two children. The construction of the home, which took a year, was first paid for with two checks totaling $100,000 from Spirikaitis’ personal account at Taupa Lithuanian, according to court documents.
“All remaining checks—totaling approximately $1,555,132—came from Spirikaitis in the form of Taupa Lithuanian Credit Union official checks,” the documents state.