Seattle FHLB Chief, One-Time NCUA Critic, Resigns

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SEATTLE – Richard Riccobono, the former chief of the Office of Thrift Supervision who has headed the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle through treacherous times, resigned as president and CEO of the Seattle Bank yesterday.

The Seattle FHLB, which reported a $161.6 million loss last year amid a strict supervisory agreement with its federal regulator, did not give a reason for Riccobono’s departure. But the Bank agreed yesterday to into another supervisory agreement with the regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, that will require it to raise its capital levels and improve its financial condition.

Riccobono, who was acting as director of the federal thrift regulator, the OTS, expressed an unusual public criticism of NCUA in 2005 when the credit union regulator was fighting the conversion of two Texas credit union giants, Community CU and OmniAmerican CU, to mutual thrifts. He said he found it unseemly that NCUA should seek to block the conversions, which eventually were successful.

Riccobono had a checkered tenure since taking over the troubled Seattle FHLB in 2007, appearing to straighten the FHLB’s finances, then running into major problems when its portfolio of private-label mortgage-backed securities soured, similar to those held by corporate credit unions. Growing losses at the bank have erased billions of dollars of capital and dividends paid to the bank’s 310 credit union and bank owners.

The Bank said Riccobono is eligible for severance pay of 12 months' salary – $524,380 – plus vested retirement benefits, if he agrees to a general release of claims against the bank and pledges not to reveal confidential bank information.

The Seattle Bank appointed chief operating officer Steven Horton as acting president and CEO, and said it will begin a search for a permanent replacement.

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