Closed Georgia bank has missing board member

AILEY, Ga. (AP) — A South Georgia bank closed by federal regulators has a missing board member who's accused of millions in fraud.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said it seized Montgomery Bank & Trust in Ailey on Friday. The bank, 170 miles southeast of Atlanta, had struggled for several years with bad loans made during the expansion boom on Georgia's coast.

The FDIC said Montgomery Bank was acquired by Moultrie-based Ameris Bank, and its two branches in Ailey and Vidalia would reopen Monday. Ameris is assuming all of the bank's $164 million in deposits and the FDIC is retaining the bulk of the failed bank's $173 million in assets.

Depositors of Montgomery Bank will automatically become depositors of Ameris Bank. "Customers can be confident that their deposits are safe and readily accessible," Ameris President and CEO Edwin Hortman said.

Montgomery Bank is the sixth bank in Georgia to fail this year.

On Tuesday, the U.S. attorney's office in New York announced that missing director Aubrey Lee Price has been charged with wire fraud involving the embezzlement of $17 million from the bank.

After telling upper management that he was investing in U.S. Treasury securities, he wired bank funds to accounts he controlled and prepared falsified statements to cover his tracks, the federal complaint said.

The banker has been missing at least since June 16. He vanished after writing friends to tell them he had lost large amounts of client funds on trades and wanted to kill himself, authorities said.

Investigators say Price, 46, was last seen boarding a ferry in Key West, Fla., bound for Fort Myers, Fla. He had "previously stated that he owns real estate in Venezuela" and "may own a boat that would be large enough to travel to Venezuela from Florida," the complaint says.

Besides the complaint by the U.S. attorney's office, the federal Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a complaint accusing him of defrauding more than 100 investment clients in Georgia and Florida, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Saturday.

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