Former Bank of the West employee banned from industry for loan fraud

WASHINGTON — The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. banned a former Bank of the West employee from the industry after he admitted to opening loans in customers’ names and directing the funds to his own personal accounts.

Mark Wong, a vice president and business banking officer at the San Francisco-based bank until 2016, pleaded guilty to bank fraud earlier this year. Under an FDIC enforcement action that was made public Friday, he is prohibited from working in the industry.

In January, Wong accepted a guilty plea in connection with what federal prosecutors called a “fraudulent scheme” involving loans opened with personal information from applicants who had previously sought loans from Bank of the West.

The FDIC banned Mark Wong from the banking industry after the former Bank of the West employee pled guilty to felony bank fraud.

Bloomberg News

Wong “would use this personal identification information to apply for loans” from Bank of the West “in amounts that [he] knew would be approved” and “change the address and the bank routing information for these fraudulent loan applications to addresses and accounts” that belonged to him, according to court documents filed by prosecutors.

In one instance from February 2016, prosecutors found that Wong had used a customer’s personal information to obtain a $100,000 loan from Bank of the West, according to court filings.

In total, Wong’s fraud cost the bank just under $220,000, which he was ordered to pay back as restitution. Wong was also sentenced to one day of imprisonment, followed by two months of house arrest and 100 hours of community service.

The FDIC’s enforcement order, dated March 9, said that the former executive “made fraudulent loans in the names of bank customers without their authorization or knowledge” and “then transferred the loan funds to accounts he controlled for his personal benefit.”

Wong “violated the law, engaged in unsafe or unsound banking practices, and breached his fiduciary duty,” the FDIC wrote in its order, adding that the “violations, practices, and breaches involved personal dishonesty” and demonstrated Wong’s “willful and/or continuing disregard for the safety or soundness of the Bank.”

Before arriving at Bank of the West, Wong served as a business banking officer at U.S. Bancorp, according to a LinkedIn profile. After leaving Bank of the West in 2016, he worked for Cal Mutual, a nonbank real estate lender, and NestMade Mortgage, another nonbank, as a commercial and business lender, the LinkedIn profile states.

A Bank of the West spokesperson declined to comment. A lawyer representing Wong did not respond to a request for comment.

The $96 billion-asset Bank of the West is a unit of the French banking giant BNP Paribas.