But little noticed outside of investment and banking circles, shareholders of a somewhat obscure area bank questioned wild spending amid mounting losses.
|CertusBank SouthPark Branch|
• More than $350,000 on private jet flights.
• More than $300,000 on sporting events, including $131,000 on Carolina Panthers tickets.
• More than $100,000 on private club memberships and luxury vacation expenses.
• More than $1.5 million on three corporate apartments. The bank spent $1 million to out fit them.
• More then $30 million to up fit the new Greenville headquarters.
• More than $1 million in art work
• and 300,000 pennies glued to an office ceiling.
But the lavish lifestyle of the management team is nothing compared to the question of more than $11 million in payments to consultants, including large payments to Integrated Capital Strategies, a financial consulting firm owned by bank executives and managed in part by former Charlotte City Council member James “Smuggie” Mitchell.
Apparently a review of financial statements showed that ICS was overbilling the bank for its asset resolution services. The bank said it contracted with the company to help deal with the millions of dollars worth of troubled assets it assumed with the failed banks.
From the Charlotte Business Journal:
In one case, CertusBank paid ICS a total of $537,475 for a year’s work by a contractor, while ICS paid him $150,000, the letter states. CertusBank senior executives were also paid more than $1.5 million in cash between 2011 and 2013 by ICS, the letter states.
ICS chief executive Sammy Hicks III did not respond to requests for comment. CertusBank said it no longer has a contract with ICS.
Listed among the management team is Mitchell, the longtime Former Charlotte City Councilman.
Mitchell said he was hired by ICS in 2011. He was first elected to the City Council in 1999 and lost to Patrick Cannon in the Democratic primary for Charlotte mayor in 2013.
Mitchell works in ICS’ government services division, which represents and lobbies local governments and helps companies secure government business, according to its website. Mitchell said he works with small towns on issues such as setting up tax collection systems. He said he does not work with the city of Charlotte.
Mitchell is one of five executives named as the company’s leaders. He is listed as a managing partner and managing director at ICS, but Mitchell said he characterizes himself as a lower-level “grunt.” He said he is not familiar with ICS’ work with CertusBank.
Is there a CertusBank connection to Patrick Cannon as well as Smuggie Mitchell? Who knows?
But Mitchell's attempt to distance himself from CertusBank claiming "grunt" status ought to perk your ears up.
There is no one on Charlotte's City Council "clean enough" to assume the role of mayor.
The Cannon scandal is embarrassing, but can you imagine council appointing a mayor from their own ranks only to have that appointee indicted a month from now?
Even if the next mayor is not charged everyone on council is tainted as long as this investigation is on going.
Frankly ask any taxpayer, any citizen, all associated with the current city council and city management are suspect. Given the term of the new mayor a special election is the only option.
Cedar Posts Bonus:
Interesting how Anthony Foxx quickly distanced himself from Charlotte once he arrived in Washington. His cheerleading efforts for light rail came to a screeching halt. Leaving one to imagine at some point he got word of the FBI's interest in Patrick Cannon and ......
I guess we shall see.