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Missouri Trust & Investment CEO fined in court case

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Missouri Trust & Investment Co. CEO Tim Parrish was ordered in court this month to pay a fine to his former employer, Simmons First National Corp. (Nasdaq: SFNC), as part of an ongoing case.

Prior to leading the launch of Missouri Trust & Investment last year, Parrish was a senior vice president and trust development officer for Simmons Bank through March 7, 2017, according to the initial petition in a lawsuit filed that same month by Simmons Bank. Parrish previously worked nearly 18 years as senior vice president for Trust Company of the Ozarks, which Simmons purchased in November 2015.

In the suit – filed four months before Missouri Trust received its state charter in July 2017 – Simmons, dba Simmons Wealth Management, claimed Parrish violated his stock grant nonsolictiation agreement and stock option nonsoliciation agreement.

The initial petition alleges Parrish, while still working as an employee at Simmons, had begun soliciting Simmons’ customers and employees on company time, leading to his termination. The petition also alleges Parrish was guilty of breaching his fiduciary duty by failing to avoid conflicts of interest and damaging the company with his behavior.

A permanent injunction issued on June 12, 2017, barred Parrish from soliciting Simmons’ clients and hiring anyone from its wealth management division, according to court documents.

A March 12 order and judgment in Greene County Circuit Court requires Parrish to pay a $4,000 compensatory fine, as well as $10,090 in attorneys’ fees and costs incurred by Simmons.

“With regard to plaintiff’s motion for contempt, the clear and convincing evidence showed that defendant willfully, recklessly, contumaciously and secretly retained possession of confidential and highly sensitive client information and proprietary documents of plaintiff, and that he used such documents, directly or indirectly, to solicit and meet with customers of plaintiff and otherwise in an effort to compete with plaintiff, all during the pendency of the 6/12/17 injunction,” the court order written by Judge Jason Brown reads.

The March 12 court documents indicate Parrish sought to dismiss an amended petition filed by Simmons. The court blocked the dismissal, noting the count of breach of fiduciary duty was not dismissed nor addressed in the June 2017 injunction. Parrish has through April 1 to respond to the order.

The latest court entries were on March 20 and March 27.  An injunction order was filed March 20 related to the deposition of Dwight Rahmeyer, who’s listed as regional chairman of Simmons’ trust operations in court filings. The March 27 filing indicates Simmons paid for a temporary restraining order bond.

In a statement provided by his attorney, Brett Roubal of Baird Lightner Millsap PC, Parrish said he disagrees with the March 12 court decision after taking “great care” to adhere with the obligations put forth in the June court order last year.

“My legal team is still in the process of determining the best course of action, but I note that the court’s decision could be appealed and the injunction portion of the decision is temporary by nature,” Parrish said in the statement. “I certainly meant no wrong and intend on continuing to do everything in compliance with all court orders.”

At Missouri Trust, typical client accounts have minimum values of $250,000, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. Simmons Wealth Management ranked third on SBJ’s 2017 list of the area’s largest trust companies, with $1.05 billion in local assets administered during 2016.

A recent call report filed with the Missouri Division of Finance shows that, as of Dec. 31, 2017, Missouri Trust had $2.6 million in assets and an equal $2.6 million in liabilities and equity capital. Within liabilities, equity capital made up $2.2 million of the total. Under fiduciary and related services, Missouri Trust reported $54.7 million in managed assets via 109 accounts at the end of 2017. The company also posted a calendar year-to-date net loss of $783,000 as of Dec. 31, according to the Division of Finance report.

Missouri Trust launched with an employee list that included David Richards, a former senior portfolio manager at Simmons Bank, and Jenifer Martin, an operations consultant who formerly was employed at Trust Company of the Ozarks, according to SBJ reporting. However, both Richards and Martin are no longer with the company, according to email correspondence with them. Another initial employee, Sharon Jobe, previously worked at Trust Company of the Ozarks.

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