Bank of Valletta (BOV)’s CEO Rick Hunkin is expected to depart the bank later on this year by mutual agreement, according to reports in local media outlets.
His departure from the bank is said to come amidst the breaking down of his relationship with members of its senior management, and controversy over the expensive contracts awarded to foreign consultants.
According to Times of Malta, the agreement for Mr Hunkin to depart was reached in the final quarter of 2021, when he reached a mutual agreement with BOV’s Board of Directors to move on.
According to the media outlet, the plan is for him to move on later this year as part of an exit strategy to save him and the bank from controversy.
At least publicly, the bank’s board has been supportive of Mr Hunkin, including as it was embattled by allegations of waste when it was revealed to have engaged several consultants at an “exorbitant” cost.
Late last year, the board’s Chairman, Gordon Cordina told BusinessNow.mt that the engagement of these consultancies was “an investment in systems and knowledge.”
“The internal procedures to scrutinise such expenditure were proven to be robust. The contracts passed through our governance systems – more than one pair of eyes and hands went over their contracts – and the matter was raised at multiple levels,” he said.
However, the “investment” in these consultancies came at a time when the bank was engaged in several cost-cutting initiatives, raising eyebrows for some.
Indeed, a source cited by Times of Malta contended that while prior to Mr Hunkin, the bank was not being run in an appropriate way for a commercial bank, under his stewardship it swung to the opposite extreme, with spending considered excessive.
The leader is also said to have fallen out with members of the bank’s senior management team due to his efforts to transform its operations, with some executives feeling sidelined.
Mr Hunkin was the bank’s first foreign CEO, recruited just before the COVID pandemic hit. Prior highlights of his career include a stint as Executive at the UK’s (now-defunct) Northern Rock Bank. Aside from his position at BOV, Mr Hunkin is also Chairman of the Malta Bankers’ Association
According to MaltaToday, the next CEO is expected to be recruited from within Malta.
BOV is Malta’s largest bank and is partially owned by the Government of Malta.