Kam Wong, 62, of Valley Stream, was arrested on May 8 and was charged in federal court with fraud, embezzlement and aggravated identity theft.
From 2013 through 2018, Wong, as chief executive officer and president of the 425,000-member Municipal Credit Union, allegedly embezzled more than $6 million, according to Geoffrey S. Berman, interim U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
An ongoing investigation revealed that Wong had obtained a number of payments from the credit union under suspicious or questionable circumstances, according to Berman. They include:
Millions of dollars in cash payments in lieu of a long-term disability insurance policy and taxes to cover those payments.
Reimbursement payments for repairs to a luxury vehicle the credit union leased to Wong, which had repair work covered by car insurance.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars in reimbursements for dental work that was never performed.
Cash withdrawals from a credit union credit card for purportedly “testing” the credit union’s automatic transaction machines.
Substantial educational, housing and living expenses for two of Wong’s friend’s relatives.
Tens of thousands of dollars in annual cash advances for which Wong provided no supporting documentation.
Payments for 320 days of unused sick leave, in violation of Wong’s contract and the credit union’s policies.
Wong deposited the proceeds he received into a credit union account from which he withdrew about $1.9 million from ATMs. Berman alleged that Wong also spent at least $3.55 million from this account on New York state lottery tickets.
“As alleged, the CEO and president of New York’s oldest credit union abused his position of trust as a guardian of municipal, state and federal workers’ financial accounts to enrich himself,” Berman said in a statement. “Kam Wong allegedly stole money from the credit union’s earnings that were intended to reward the credit union’s members, not line Wong’s pockets.”
In February, after Wong learned about the investigation, he allegedly misled federal agents and credit union board members in an effort to explain and justify some of these payments. At the end of February, Wong was placed on leave by the credit union’s board of directors on the recommendation of a special committee overseeing an internal investigation.
Wong has been charged with one count of embezzlement from a federally insured credit union, one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. If convicted, he faces a mandatory two-year prison sentence for identity theft and up to 30 years on the other charges.
Representatives of the $2.7 billion MCU said in a statement that the charges were “deeply upsetting.”
Chief Compliance Officer Norman Kohn was named acting president
“MCU was aware of the investigation and has been cooperating with the U.S. Attorney’s office,” Kohn said in a prepared statement. “As acting president and chief executive officer, I want to assure you . . . that the credit union is as strong as it has ever been. The credit union has alerted all relevant regulatory agencies and has been conducting its own internal investigation led by outside counsel. The credit union is not under investigation. We want to assure our members that MCU remains financially strong and committed to their needs.”
Wong, who joined the credit union in 1981, became the chief financial officer in 1989 and chief executive officer in 2007. He was credited with helping MCU recover from the Sept. 11 attacks. MCU’s headquarters were located a few yards from the World Trade Center. Wong also helped the credit union weather the 2007-09 recession and Hurricane Sandy.
According to Wong’s 2016 tax forms, he received a base salary of nearly $2.1 million and bonuses totaling some $1.4 million, plus $2.3 million in other compensation, including deferred compensation and nontaxable benefits. In addition, MCU provided Wong with a leased Ferrari California T.