Raiffeisen Bank International CEO Stepic offers to resign
Herbert Stepic, the CEO of RBI and architect of the bank's expansion in Central and Eastern Europe, offered to step down as an inquiry is under way
"Herbert Stepic has informed the Chairman of the RBI Supervisory Board, Walter Rothensteiner, that he is offering to resign his position as CEO of Raiffeisen Bank International AG due to personal reasons," the bank said in a statement.
It said the RBI committees "will promptly consider this proposal" and that Stepic will stay on as CEO until they reach a final decision.Earlier this week, an Austrian magazine said Stepic used companies in the British Virgin Islands and Hong Kong to buy property offshore without informing his employer.
Reuters reported that the deals are currently under investigation by the Austrian central bank, the Financial Market Authority and by Raiffeisen bank.
In a statement on Friday, Stepic said that the companies mentioned by the reports were not "offshore constructions" and all the investments were made with income that had already been taxed in Austria.
"Secondly, these are actual real estate investments that were processed through investment companies. I have no reservations in disclosing these facts to the relevant authorities," he said.
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Earlier this week RBI said: "The internal compliance department was instructed to consider this information for compliance with relevant legislation and internal policies and regulations. This process is under way."
Stepic, who has a Ph.D in economics and business administration, has been working for Raiffeisen Bank International since 1973 and is a well-known advocate for Central and Eastern Europe's attractiveness for investors.In an interview before the EBRD meeting in Istanbul earlier this month, Stepic told Emerging Marketsthat RBI planned to grow its business in CEE organically but was also keeping an open mind about acquisitions.
Later on Friday, RBI sent out a statement saying that the bank's leaders recognized Stepic's offer to resign as a sign of his "deep affinity for the company."
"Credit should be given to him for taking this difficult decision and so fending off damage for the companys image," it said.
"With his vision and strength, Herbert Stepic shaped Raiffeisen Bank International and has made it one of the leading banking groups in Austria and in Central and Eastern Europe. The presidium will meet without delay and discuss further steps."
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