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Laffitte defends loans he approved for Murdaugh as prosecutors probe him in bank fraud trial – InsuranceNewsNet

“I assumed so, yes,” Laffitte said of the loan.

“You knew because you were the one who did it,” Limehouse said.

Laffitte said he unknowingly set up a restorer account for a client Natarsha Thomas on Murdaugh’s direction, although Thomas was already an adult and did not need a restorer to oversee her account. The document signed by Laffitte misrepresented Thomas’ age, stating that she was only 15 years old. Laffitte said the document was completed by Murdaugh and that Laffitte relied on Murdaugh’s guidance in setting up the account.

“I hadn’t checked her driver’s license or ID,” he said.

In another case, Laffitte acted as conservator for an account held by another settlement recipient, Hakeem Pinckneyafter Pinckney died.

Laffitte repeatedly said Monday morning that he was relying on Murdaugh’s instructions on how to withdraw money, even when Murdaugh was writing checks Palmetto State Bank instead of individual conservator accounts. But Limehouse emphasized that it was Laffitte who moved all the checks that Murdaugh had asked of him as a banker Palmetto State Bank.

Laffitte acknowledged that the loans to Murdaugh were unsecured as Murdaugh was over $100,000 overdrawn at the bank at the time. Laffitte testified that unsecured loans were not uncommon for the bank.

At one point, Laffitte said he was relying on Murdaugh’s instructions “as her attorney” when withdrawing money from the account, but Limehouse fired back.

“You can’t count on him as a restorer unless you know those funds belonged to him Natarsha Thomas and Hakeem Pinckney,” Limehouse said, to which Laffitte said he misspoke.

Limehouse pressured Laffitte for a $750,000 Loan made by Laffitte to Murdaugh, ostensibly to cover the cost of renovating a home in Edisto Beach that was assessed to be worth less than the cost of the loan. Laffitte said the loan was also meant to cover other expenses. But Limehouse said Laffitte presented the loan to the bank’s board of directors as if it would only cover beach house renovations. Laffitte said this was not intended to disguise the purpose of the loan, but was instead a normal course of business with the board.

“We don’t talk to the board about how the funds will be spent,” Laffitte said.

The other issues weren’t mentioned in emails at the time because “we were told by our lawyers to keep our emails short,” he said.

Limehouse pointed out that Laffitte borrowed from Plyler’s account to pay off loans he received from another bank, credit card bills, and other personal expenses, and gave Murdaugh $1 million to pay off his loans. Laffitte made $450,000 in fees for monitoring Murdaugh’s client accounts and “in return, let you Alex Murdaugh Use that money however he wanted,” Limehouse said.

“It wasn’t an exchange, it was a business decision,” Laffitte said. “If he needed money, I made the decision whether to pay it or not.”

Limehouse also pointed out that Laffitte didn’t pay taxes on the fees he received from the accounts, but Laffitte testified that it wasn’t because he helped Murdaugh steal money, it was because “I just don’t pay taxes on it.” wanted to pay”.

“It was stupid,” Laffitte testified.

On Friday, Laffitte testified for more than three hours while answering questions from his own attorneys.

Laffitte told jurors he followed Murdaugh’s instructions to withdraw money from clients at Murdaugh’s law firm, depending on the good intentions of the prominent Hampton County attorney, whom he described as a longtime client and personal friend.

Laffitte said on the stand Friday that he had never intentionally stolen money from anyone, but said that “I did it absolutely unintentionally.”

The former CEO of Palmetto State Bank also testified that Laffitte could legally move money for investment purposes as a bank manager and conservator authorized to oversee many of the accounts that Murdaugh’s law firm had set up for juvenile auto accident victims.

two others Palmetto State Bank Executives, who happened to be Laffitte’s father and sister, had approved a particularly controversial payment from $680,000 to cover monies instructed by Murdaugh Laffitte to be withdrawn from the client’s account Arthur Badger.

Questions about the move, raised by members of Palmetto State Bank’s board of directors, eventually led to Laffitte being fired from the board. On Friday, Laffitte’s lawyers played a behind-closed-doors recording of a board meeting at which the bank’s lawyer discussed the payment with the board, hoping to show bank officials were aware of his actions at the time.

Laffitte was expected to be cross-examined for a few hours on Monday, with final arguments expected afterwards.

This is an evolving story. It will be updated.

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Richard Dement

The author Richard Dement