The financial shell game.

This describes two the financial shell game was used in different and separate situations

1. Subsidiaries of FSB Bancorp, including Altus Venture, use their ties to FSB Bancorp and First State Bank Altus (a Federally regulated State Bank), to evidence their ability to produce investment capital in the form of debt or equity financing. They then will make a proposal to the business-owner, land owner, investor, (or even to State Officials capable of authorizing negotiable financial instruments, i.e. tax credits), etc. to provide financing to enhance the subject enterprise.

2. Once financial credibility has been established with an investor, business owner, land owner (or even with an Oklahoma State Official, in the case of tax credits), these FSB subsidiaries will use this Bank affiliation to garner confidence that they can be trusted with the stewardship of the enterprise, whether it is a business; real estate development; large sums of private, and/or public investment capital; patents; equipment; or any other asset with marketable value. The FSB subsidiary will offer to handle all accounting, tax reporting and legal documentation stating that they have the expertise to establish and professionally manage all financial functions necessary to ensure the best opportunity for success of the enterprise.

3. The FSB subsidiary will represent that they will "invest in", "capitalize", "fund", etc. the proposed enterprise. This representation is made so that the business owner, land owner, investor, etc. will have every confidence in its new "Bank Partner" since the "Bank" will have its "own money" invested in the enterprise. In other words, representing the fact they are at risk forces them to protect and perform.

Additionally, it is represented that since the "Bank" is regulated, with professional management and sophisticated accounting systems, and "has relationships with a network of 250 other "Banks", capital for the business-owner, land owner, investor, etc. "will never again be an issue". This representation of the "Banks" own capital, is simply "Theater" or "flash money" to get the transaction started. As in the case of the Altus Venture tax credit scheme detailed in the 2006 AP expose', the funds supposedly to be contributed by the FSB Bancorp subsidiary, were never in evidence as represented. Funds are typically evidenced by loans that are never funded; or funds are borrowed from investors; obtained as proceeds through sale of property FSB doesn't own; or obtained from the business owner's, land owner's, or investor's own bank. Collateral for any debt financing will generally be that owned by the business owner, land owner or investor. Or, in the tax of tax credits, public money. Then through the use financial "shell games" they use these public and private assets to generate huge financial benefits for themselves and insiders in the form of "return of investment capital", "investment returns", "management fees", and "consulting fees", while never having actually produced any real investment capital for the enterprise themselves.

With "no skin in the game", they use a variety of methods to skim funds and/or abscond with the assets of the company. In the case of the Colorado land scheme, the strategy was to:

  1. tie the land up with mortgage liens,
  2. fail to provide promised financing,
  3. fail to pay for construction work and conspire with affiliated construction companies to file mechanic's liens so the land cannot not be refinanced or sold to third-party consumers, and then force property into foreclosure so as to take over the Colorado partner's property.


Disclaimer. This is the writers best interpretative reconstruction of the events based on information gleamed from the Colorado lawsuit and other available sources. The fact that the Altus Group, in spite of a court order, has yet to provide a full accounting to the other partners leaves some information incomplete and best good faith estimate.