CertusBank removes 3 top executives

04/10/2014 12:00 AM

04/09/2014 9:13 PM

CertusBank said Wednesday it terminated three top executives and appointed industry veteran John S. Poelker interim president and chief executive officer.

The $1.66 billion-asset bank, based in Greenville, said Milton Jones, Walter Davis and Angela Webb were terminated from their respective posts as executive chairman, chief executive officer and president.

None could be reached for comment.

Robert L. Wright, a CertusBank board member and chairman and CEO of FE Holdings Inc., will succeed Jones as the bank’s chairman, company officials said.

“I look forward to working with everyone at CertusBank to strengthen the company for the future. My goals are to listen, learn and lead — in that order,” Poelker said in a statement.

“As we assess the state of the bank, we will remain focused on doing the right thing for our customers and working openly with all of our stakeholders. I am energized about this opportunity and eager to get started.”

“John Poelker has the utmost respect within the banking industry and CertusBank’s unequivocal support and confidence,” Wright said, also in a statement.

“On behalf of our board, I am proud to welcome John to the CertusBank team and have his knowledge and experience navigating the steps we will take to move our bank forward the right way, in a direction that is best for CertusBank’s future stability and growth.”

A company spokesman said Poelker and Wright weren’t available for additional comment.

CertusBank has lost $84.1 million in the last two years, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. records, and has been dealing with questions about a number of the privately held company’s expenses.

On March 29, The Greenville News reported that Certus was looking into issues raised in a story by trade publication American Banker that cited sources alleging “gross mismanagement by senior executives.”

In the article published March 28, American Banker reported some investors questioned several expenses by Certus.

Those expenses, the publication reported, include “nearly $10 million paid to a consulting firm owned by Certus’ top officers; $146,000 for three months of work by an executive’s son fresh out of college; $2.5 million for three executive apartments and high-end upgrades; $347,000 for private plane trips; $131,000 for Carolina Panthers games; several hundred thousand dollars for sponsorships and charitable gifts; and more than $500,000 for American Express bills.”

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