Cyrus Vance Jr.
Manhattan District Attorney
Steve A. Linick
Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency
Assistant District Attorneys Edward Starishevsky, Senior Investigative Counsel, and Julieta V. Lozano led the investigation under the supervision of Polly Greenberg, Chief of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau, and Adam Kaufmann, Chief of the Investigation Division. Investigative Analyst Steven Koch and Trial Preparation Assistants Marisa Calleja, Elisabeth Daniels, Melissa Brown, and Kathleen Dougherty assisted in the investigation. In addition, Investigator Jason Malone of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau participated in the investigation under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Santiago Batista.
Assistant District Attorneys
prosecutors at trial
The People of the State of New York v. Abacus Federal Savings Bank et al., case number 02480-2012,
in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York.
May 2012 press release: https://www.fhfaoig.gov/Content/Files/Abacus%20Bank.pdf
In May 2012, the Manhattan District Attorney office indicted Abacus Federal Savings Bank and 19 of its employees for fraud regarding hundreds of millions of dollars of mortgages that had been sold to Fannie Mae between 2005 and 2010. The bank was accused of falsifying loan applications so that borrowers would qualify for mortgages. Abacus replied it uncovered the improper behavior itself, reported it to the regulator, and fired the employee in question. It also said it was not involved with the fraudulent packaging of subprime mortgage securities and had a mortgage default rate of 0.5%, a tenth of the national average.
The unreasonableness of the prosecution, in light of the treatment received by large banks, was questioned by media outlets.
The Bank, along with its former Chief Credit Officer and its former loan supervisor, were acquitted of all charges in a jury trial in New York Supreme Court on June 3 and 4, 2015.
On September 9, 2015, the Court dismissed all of the charges against the remaining defendants, due to lack of evidence.
The story is told in Steve James’ feature-length documentary Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, which had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, September 11, 2016. It was broadcast nationally on PBS Frontline on September 12, 2017.
The documentary was nominated for an Oscar in 2018.
Documentary: “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail”
5/18/17 NPR: “‘Abacus’: The Small Chinatown Bank That Paid A High Price”
5/19/17 Business Insider: “A new movie exposes the ‘ridiculous’ case against the one bank charged after the 2008 crisis”
10/12/15 The New Yorker: “The Accused: When a Chinatown bank was investigated for fraud, a community’s financial way of life was put on trial”
5/15/17 The Daily Beast: “Scapegoat: The Tiny, Family-Owned Bank That Took the Fall for the 2008 Financial Crisis”
6/4/15 New York Times: “Abacus Bank Found Not Guilty of Mortgage Fraud and Other Charges”