|End-Times Doom Belief Contributed to Demise of Ephraim Bank|
By Sterling D. Allan|
Greater Things News Service
EPHRAIM, UTAH - Believing that the end was nigh in 1999, several Hilldale polygamist customers took out loans with no ability or intent to repay, creating bad loans that contributed to the collapse of the Bank of Ephraim Friday June 25.
On May 5, the Salt Lake Tribune ran a story titled: 'FLDS church teachings lead members into financial mire' reporting that as the year 2000 approached, "many followers of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints felt encouraged to max out their credit cards and exhaust their personal loans. The end was near, FLDS leaders said, and the bills would never come due."
On the same day, in a concurrent story, the Tribune reported: "The Bank of Ephraim has poured its trust and money into a polygamist enclave on the Utah-Arizona border since the 1950s, approving high-risk business and consumer loans often backed by questionable collateral. The bank's faith in this Arizona Strip community added to the toll on its bottom line last year -- it lost more than three quarters of a million dollars -- and bank officials acknowledge they are working to rectify problems."
Today, the Tribune reported that the Bank of Ephraim has folded, bought up by Far West Bank of Provo.
The bank could have recovered from the bad loans. What rung the death knell was a multi-million dollar embezzlement scheme.
Far West Bank is closing the Hilldale branch, leaving the community with no local bank.
Many in the polygamist community live off the government dole as part of their "sack the Gentiles" belief. Now they have contributed to the demise of a bank in which the city of Ephraim and Snow College are major depositors, susceptible to the FDIC limits of insurance.
The Hilldale enclave church leaders live in hotel-size homes while the people in general live below the poverty level, with $1,000 per month tithes levied to the Fundmentalist Church.
The Bank of Ephraim is the first bank to fail in Utah since 1988.
Greater Things News Service|
Originally published June 27, 2004
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