Robert L. Allbritton is expected to submit his resignation as chief executive and chairman of Riggs National Corp. today, ending 24 years of Allbritton family executive control of the Washington banking company, according to sources familiar with his plans.
Allbritton is the 37-year-old son and only child of Joe L. Allbritton, who gained control of the company and its Riggs Bank subsidiary in 1981. Though the family still controls nearly 40 percent of the outstanding stock, no family members will remain on the board or in the executive suite. Joe, who was chief executive until 2001, and his wife, Barbara, resigned as directors last April, as a money-laundering scandal engulfed the company.
Robert Allbritton in a photo taken last June. His father, Joe Allbritton, acquired Riggs Bank in 1981.
(Katherine Frey - For The Washington Post)
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Riggs National Corp.
For a quick overview of Riggs Bank's legal problems, the status of various investigations and more, check out a Riggs primer compiled by washingtonpost.com.
Sources familiar with the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because not all the company's directors have been notified, said the decision to resign was Robert's. They said the move came at this time because most of the company's legal entanglements stemming from its anti-money laundering failures have been resolved and because of Riggs's impending merger into PNC Financial Services Group Inc.
Riggs Bank pled guilty in January to one felony count of failing to prevent possible money laundering by former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and officials of the West African oil state of Equatorial Guinea. Riggs paid a $16 million fine in that action, on top of an earlier $25 million regulatory fine.
The roles of senior management in courting those two clients, including Joe Allbritton before he resigned as chief executive, have come under scrutiny by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and the Justice Department. Both continue to investigate the role individuals played in the management and regulatory lapses that led to Riggs's failure to comply with anti-money-laundering rules.
Separately, a group of independent Riggs directors is also conducting an inquiry into the Allbrittons' extensive personal use of a corporate jet and a luxury London apartment, both of which were sold last year. The Department of Justice is also conducting an inquiry into the use of corporate assets at Riggs.