Rietumu bank shrinks board, changes chairman

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Latvia's largest remaining non-resident bank, Rietumu banka, has announced sweeping changes to its executive board, including the replacement of its chairman.

On 24 April, at a meeting of the Council of JSC "Rietumu Banka", the membership of the Executive Board was reduced from eight to five persons. 

Additionally, chairman of the board Alexander Pankov was replaced by Rolf Fuls.

Pankov had been chairman of the executive board since 2010 and as reported by LSM last year was givena  four-year suspended jail sentence by French courts for his role in a tax avoidance scheme run by the France Offhsore company which used accounts held at Rietumu to help French taxpayers hide money from the authorities. At the same time Rietumu itself was slapped with an 80-million-euro fine, though the bank signalled its intention to appeal.

Pankov "will continue working in the bank and will oversee a number of strategic areas of the bank's activities," the bank said in a statement without giving further details of what those areas might be.

Fuls, a South African, started work at Rietumu in 1997, having previously worked for Deloitte & Touche. He used to occupy positions of the bank’s vice-president, member of the Board, advisor to the Chairman of the Board, member of the Council, in charge of financial control and accounting, treasury, technology development and correspondent banking.   

The Management Board now consists of: Ruslan Stecyuk (Deputy Chairman of the Board), Ilya Suharenko (Deputy Chairman of the Board), Natalia Ignatjeva (Member of the Board) and Jelena Buraja (Member of the Board).

"Changes in the membership of the management is a logical part of the entire transformation program. The Bank is reviewing its strategy and becoming more compact and flexible – by means of this, we will be able to carry out transformations and implement new business ideas faster and more efficiently. All the members of the current Board are highly qualified specialists and experienced Rietumu employees - I am sure that their professionalism will help us to move forward with maximum efficiency," said Arkady Suharenko, deputy chairman of the Rietumu Council in announcing the changes. 

Following the demise of rival ABLV, Rietumu is now the largest remaining bank servicing the non-resident banking sector in Latvia. However, with authorities finally clamping down on the sector after a decade of money-laundering scandals, the non-resident banks including Rietumu face the choice of changing their business models significantly  or facing an uncertain future.

Nevertheless, Rietumu remains far larger than any other remaining non-resident banks with assets at the end of 2017 of around 3.1 billion euros.   

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