CertusBank has terminated its top executive team, effective immediately, the $1.7 billion-asset bank announced Wednesday.
Greenville, S.C.-based Certus announced that it has tapped John Poelker as interim president and chief executive. Poelker's experience includes stints as CEO of Beach First National Bank in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Georgian Bancorp. in Atlanta. He formerly served as chief financial officer at Old National Bancorp in Evansville, Ind. and State Bank Financial. Since 2005, he has run Poelker Consultancy, an Atlanta firm that advises financial institutions.
Robert Wright, a longtime Certus board member, was appointed as the new chairman of the board.
The terminated executives are Executive Chairman Milton Jones, Chief Executive Walter Davis and President Angela Webb. Their departures follow a report in American Banker of lavish spending, related-party transactions and large losses at Certus.
They also follow the March 31 resignation of Certus' other founder, co-CEO Charles Williams. His departure came four days after American Banker reported that Williams may have purchased bank property for less than its market value and that the bank paid a consultancy $146,000 for three months of work by his son, a recent college graduate. Williams said he had been considering his move for months.
The change in management also came two days after American Banker reported that Certus' leaders had received support in their bid for a bank charter from leading Capitol Hill Democrats. In a letter addressed to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair, the legislators said the bank's founders "are of unquestioned character and reputation" and sought "prompt review and action" in response to their application for a banking charter.
CertusBank was founded in the wake of the financial crisis with $500 million in commitments from hedge funds and other outside investors to acquire failed banks. It acquired a federal charter in January 2011 when it purchased CommunitySouth Bank & Trust from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. It currently operates in 12 states with more than 30 branches.