Valdosta Daily Times

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October 31, 2012

Asset recovery for missing bank director difficult

ATLANTA — The lawyer appointed to recover the assets of a South Georgia bank director who disappeared in June says the process is complicated by holdings in Venezuela and the fact that it’s not clear whether he’s still alive.

Melanie Damian has been working since August to untangle a complicated web of property and financial records to recover money for investors left empty-handed when Aubrey Lee Price went missing on June 16.

The FBI and federal prosecutors in New York say Price embezzled $17 million in bank funds after he became a director of Montgomery Bank & Trust in Ailey, Ga. in December 2010. The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a complaint in federal court in Atlanta saying he defrauded investors. A federal grand jury in Georgia has indicted Price on a bank fraud charge, after prosecutors claimed that his actions led to the depletion of the bank’s cash assets and reserves.

Price left his home in south Georgia on June 16, telling his family he was headed to Guatemala for business, authorities have said. Two days later, Price’s family received letters saying he was going to Florida to board a ferry and planned to jump off it along the way to end his life. The FBI has released surveillance videos showing Price at the airport and ferry terminal in Key West the day he disappeared.

A rambling, 22-page letter to financial regulators that authorities believe was written by Price includes several pages that detail some properties and accounts that Price owned or controlled. Most of that information has proved accurate so far, Damian said.

Price’s bank accounts in Venezuela are a notable discrepancy. The letter indicates hundreds of thousands of dollars in those accounts, but current bank statements show that they are nearly empty, Damian said.

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