CertusBank officials said Charles M. Williams resigned as vice chairman of the Greenville-based company in a long-planned move.
In announcing Williams had decided to step down, Certus officials Wednesday made no mention of issues raised by a trade publication about senior executives' management.
Instead, the officials said Williams "had been considering this transition for several months as the bank has shifted its focus away from mergers and acquisitions, which was his specialty."
"We appreciate Charlie's many contributions to the business' growth and development and wish him well in his future endeavors," Certus officials said.
Williams couldn't be reached for comment.
Certus officials last week said the company was looking into issues raised in a story by trade publication American Banker that cited sources alleging "gross mismanagement by senior executives."
In the article published Friday, American Banker reported that some investors have questioned a number of expenses by the private company, whose corporate headquarters are in the One development in downtown Greenville.
Those expenses, the magazine reported, include "nearly $10 million paid to a consulting firm owned by Certus' top officers; $146,000 for three months of work by an executive's son fresh out of college; $2.5 million for three executive apartments and high-end upgrades; $347,000 for private plane trips; $131,000 for Carolina Panthers games; several hundred thousand dollars for sponsorships and charitable gifts; and more than $500,000 for American Express bills."
Kelly Owens, an executive vice president of CertusBank, said Friday in a statement to The Greenville News, "We take very seriously the issues raised in the article published by the American Banker. The facts will be established and there is a board process in place to evaluate the claims and to respond in due course.
"CertusBank remains a strong financial institution, and our talented teammates are focused on providing quality services to customers in Greenville and in the many other communities we serve."
The bank also said, "Our plans to complete the branch under construction have not changed. We will also fulfill our commitments to the community through both charitable contributions and teammate volunteerism.
"We remain committed to the betterment of Greenville and all of the communities we serve."
A nearly $2 billion company, according to its website, CertusBank is led by Greenville native Walter Davis, co-chief executive officer, along with executive chairman Milton Jones Jr. and president Angela Webb.
None could be reached for comment Wednesday.
The American Banker article quoted from a March 5 letter to CertusBank investors from a New York hedge fund manager who also was a CertusBank investor.
"Over the past two years, more than $100 million of equity capital has been erased in the most baseless and irresponsible way - by spending exorbitantly on personal excess masked as corporate expense," the magazine said Benjamin Weinger, managing partner of 3-Sigma Value Financial Opportunities, wrote. "This can go on no longer."
From 1996 to 2009, Williams worked in various executive positions with Bank of America and its predecessors, including managing director and chief administrative officer of the Global Corporate and Investment Bank.
In that role, he managed the investment bank's global infrastructure, including $1 billion in strategic investments in more than 40 companies.
Williams earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Marquette University.
CertusBank got its start in February 2011 when CommunitySouth Bank and Trust in Easley failed because of problems with the commercial real estate loan business during the Great Recession.
CommunitySouth closed on a Friday and the bank reopened the following Monday as CertusBank, which took over under a program in which the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. shared in $211.3 million of the previous bank's losses, regulators said at the time.
CertusBank has operations in 12 states, with more than 30 branches in the Carolinas, Florida and Georgia, according to the bank's website. Last fall, CertusBank said it had become the largest Small Business Administration lender by volume in the state and No. 24 in the nation.
Staff writer Ron Barnett contributed to this story.
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