2 ex-board members of failed Wilmette bank plead guilty to fraud

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Two former board members of a failed Wilmette bank have pleaded guilty to defrauding the federal government out of millions of dollars.

Zulfikar Esmail, 73, and his wife Shamim Esmail, 68, each pleaded guilty to financial institution fraud of more than $100,000 and theft of more than $100,000 from the U.S. treasury department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, according to the Illinois attorney general’s office.

Zulfikar Esmail was sentenced to five years in prison. Shamim Esmail was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to perform 250 hours of community service.

The Esmails were charged in 2013 with two other former Premier Bank board members with taking part in a scheme to defraud the Treasury Department’s TARP program of $6.8 million. The board members were accused of hiding the poor financial condition of the bank from state regulators from 2006 until the bank’s March 23, 2012, failure which cost the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. $64.1 million.

“This couple fraudulently secured TARP funds at a time when the country’s economy and its major financial institutions were on the brink of disaster,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said.

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