Durham poised to turn over proceeds of mansion sale

June 21, 2010

Investors in Tim Durham’s failed Fair Finance Co. may end up with some of the proceeds from the sale of the financier’s multimillion-dollar Geist Reservoir home.

Kelly Burgan, an attorney for bankruptcy Trustee Brian Bash, said counsel for Durham acknowledges he owes millions of dollars to Fair and is turning over artwork and selling assets to reduce the loan balance.

“Based on our discussions with counsel for Mr. Durham, it is our understanding that Tim intends to turn over the proceeds from the sale of any of his real property,” Burgan said.

Gary Sallee, an attorney for Durham, did not respond to phone messages.

IBJ reported Saturday that Durham has listed his 10,700-square-foot Fortville home with an asking price of $5.5 million. The listing agent, Paul Bates of Paul Bates Realty Group, describes the 5-acre property as a “car collectors’ dream home,” featuring a 30-car garage. It also boasts seven bedrooms, eight full bathrooms and “multiple” wet bars.

Durham also has turned over to the bankruptcy trustee numerous pieces of art, including paintings by pop icon Peter Max. The trustee is in the process of hiring an auctioneer to sell the artwork.

Hamilton County property records show Shelby County Bank, part of  Shelbyville-based Blue River Bancshares, has first dibs on proceeds from the home's sale. The property serves as collateral on a line of credit with $1.9 million outstanding. Blue River Chairman Russ Breeden on Monday declined to comment on his bank’s dealings with Durham.

Records filed with securities regulators show Durham used Akron, Ohio-based Fair like a personal bank after buying it in 2002, with money flowing to support an ostentatious lifestyle, friends and business associates, as well as other companies he owned. The records show he withdrew tens of millions under a line of credit and that he and associates borrowed even larger sums through businesses they controlled.

Related-party loans now top $168 million and represent the primary asset available to pay Ohio residents who purchased more than $200 million in unsecured investment certificates from Fair. After FBI agents raided Fair offices in November, the company halted payments on the certificates, which were supposed to pay interest rates as high as 9.5 percent.

Durham, 47, has denied doing anything wrong. His attorneys say in court filings that Fair Finance provided prospective purchasers of Fair's investment certificates offering circulars that disclosed insider loans and other risks.

However, investigators are trying to build a case that Durham duped investors. In a court filing late last year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Indianapolis alleged Durham was operating a Ponzi scheme, using money from the sale of new investment certificates to pay off prior purchasers.

(For a roundup of IBJ's coverage concerning Durham and Fair Finance, click here.)


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