CertusBank's chief executive, who joined the Greenville, S.C., company after its founders were fired last year, has left his post due to a medical issue.

The $1.4 billion-asset company confirmed Thursday that John Poelker has stepped away, but there were no details on how long he will be gone or the nature of his medical problem. Len Davenport, head of investments and treasury, is leading Certus in Poelker's absence, a company spokesman said.

The spokesman did not respond to the question of whether Poelker had left the bank temporarily or permanently.

Poelker, 72, was hired to run Certus in April 2014, shortly after the board fired the bank's three remaining founders after years of enormous losses, high expenses and questionable related-party transactions.

Poelker, a former bank consultant, had successfully wound down several troubled Georgia lenders. Since taking the helm at Certus, Poelker has cut staff, closed branches — exiting North Carolina earlier this year -- and sold the bank's mortgage, wealth and small-business lending units.

Despite these changes, the bank's financial condition has worsened. Certus lost $33.6 million in the first quarter of this year, according to its latest call report, after bleeding $70 million last year. The latest quarterly loss was largely because of a $21.7 million charge on leased real estate that the bank vacated.

The losses pushed Certus' Tier 1 ratio to 3.96%, well below the 10% ordered by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in a November enforcement action. That ratio should improve, however, with the sale of Certus' SBA lending unit to BankUnited for $20 million, a deal that closed May 1.

Certus was founded in 2011 by four former executives at Bank of America and Wachovia, who secured $500 million in hedge-fund backing to buy failed banks in the Southeast. It made four deals in 2011 and 2012 with the assistance of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

However, high expenses caused losses of $20 million in 2012 and $76 million in 2013, and the board, under pressure from investors, forced out the founders.

Three of the four founders — Milton Jones, Walter Davis and Angela Webb — filed a lawsuit against the bank and an investor shortly after they were ousted, claiming that their firing was part of a racially motivated conspiracy to take control of the bank. That case was dismissed and is now on appeal.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.