March 11, 2010 in Business

Examiner named for Spokane loan shop accused of bilking investors

By The Spokesman-Review

A former vice president of finance for The Bunker Hill Co. will examine the books of a Spokane company allegedly involved in a Ponzi scheme.

Charles Hall could begin his work next week, said John Munding, trustee for LLS America LLC, which filed for reorganization in July. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court appointed Hall examiner on Tuesday.

Hall worked at Bunker Hill for eight years in the 1970s, when the company was a mainstay of the Silver Valley mining industry. He has since been an executive, consultant, trustee or receiver for more than 20 companies, including Tacoma Boatbuilding Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Credit of America.

“He’s very well qualified,” Munding said.

LLS America, doing business as Little Loan Shoppe, makes payday loans.

Attorneys for some investors allege LLS was a Ponzi scheme that took money from new investors to repay prior backers. Investment returns as high as 60 percent from underwriting the short-term loans were promised.

The state of Washington, which in January charged the company and founder Doris Nelson with selling securities without a license, estimated LLS or related entities took in more than $50 million from U.S. and Canadian investors.

In its January operating report, LLS America showed $35 million in liabilities, $6.6 million in assets, and a $373,148 profit.

Nelson is running the company.

Munding said Hall will analyze all present and past financial statements and determine whether any improper payments were made to company insiders.

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