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SIGTARP Investigations, Audit Teams Receive Awards for Excellence

SIGTARP Excellence AwardsThe investigations team and the audit team of the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), in conjunction with federal partners, were recognized for excellence by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE), SIGTARP recently announced.

SIGTARP's investigations team received two 2014 Investigations Awards for Excellence, and the audit team received a 2014 Audit Award for Excellence, according to SIGTARP.

"The SIGTARP Investigations and Audit teams recognized for excellence are groundbreaking; bring accountability, justice, and transparency for taxpayers; and are true examples of teamwork and effectiveness in the federal government," said Christy Romero, Special Inspector General for TARP (SIGTARP).

One 2014 Investigations Award for Excellence was presented to SIGTARP's investigation team for its investigation of a multi-million dollar bank fraud, securities fraud, and TARP-related fraud scheme surrounding the mergers of Bank of American and Merrill Lynch. SIGTARP investigated this case jointly with the New York State Office of the Attorney General. Members of SIGTARP's investigations team that were recognized were Larry Hart, Kristen Lange, Kevin Gerrity, and Rae Oliver.

SIGTARP's investigations team received a second excellence award jointly with several federal agencies for its work on another multi-million dollar TARP-related fraud scam involving Bank of the Commonwealth. Members of SIGTARP's investigations team recognized for their contributions were Larry Hart, Peter Smyth-Hammond, Scott Rubin, Troy Bettencourt, David Shaver, Kim Davis, Ilyse Soffer, Neil Ruhland, and Brendan McDermond. Federal agencies that participated in the investigation were the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Office of Inspector General, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

"SIGTARP’s investigation with the New York Attorney General’s Office of former Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis and former CFO Joe Price exposed fraudulent misrepresentations about the Merrill Lynch merger made to shareholders and to the government to get an additional $20 billion in TARP funds," Romero said. "SIGTARP’s investigation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia of fraud on the books and records of the now-defunct Bank of the Commonwealth, including on the books used to apply for TARP, resulted in 10 convictions including a 23-year prison sentence for the bank’s former CEO Edward Woodard."

SIGTARP's audit team received an excellence award for identifying weaknesses in the implementation of the Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF). The team conducted an audit to determine if the U.S. Department of Treasury and federal financial regulators evaluated consistently the applications that TARP banks submitted to refinance out of TARP and into the SBLF.

"SIGTARP’s audit of the flawed process to move many small banks out of TARP and into the non-TARP Small Business Lending Fund so that the banks could increase small business lending revealed that these banks had not effectively increased lending," Romero said. "The audit revealed that Treasury and federal banking regulators did not adequately assess whether the banks’ plans to increase lending were achievable, as Treasury and regulators each claimed that the other had the responsibility to assess the lending plans at the time of application to the non-TARP program. We are very proud that the SIGTARP staff working on these important investigations and audit, along with the staff at our partner agencies, were recognized as a team today for their steadfast commitment to promoting TARP transparency, exposing fraud related to TARP, and ensuring accountability over TARP programs and taxpayer funds."

Members of SIGTARP's audit team recognized were Bruce Gimbel, Shawn Graham, Roxanne Caruso, Mary Jean, and Sean Morgan.

About Author: Brian Honea

Brian Honea's writing and editing career spans nearly two decades across many forms of media. He served as sports editor for two suburban newspaper chains in the DFW area and has freelanced for such publications as the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Dallas Home Improvement magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. He has written four non-fiction sports books, the latest of which, The Life of Coach Chuck Curtis, was published by the TCU Press in December 2014. A lifelong Texan, Brian received his master's degree from Amberton University in Garland.

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