Riggs National Corp.'s board members, after 48 hours of internal debate, yesterday publicly acknowledged the resignation of the company's chairman and chief executive on Monday and appointed current directors and an officer to his vacant posts.
Anthony P. Terracciano, a director of Riggs National since last year, was appointed chairman of the holding company. Lawrence I. Hebert, a director and chief executive of its Riggs Bank subsidiary, was named to the additional post of chief executive of the holding company. Robert L. Allbritton was chairman and chief executive of the holding company until his resignation.
Lawrence I. Hebert has been chief executive of Riggs Bank since 2001.
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Riggs National Corp.
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Riggs Bank director Thomas F. Fitzgerald was appointed chairman of the bank, a position Allbritton also held.
Allbritton's resignation, while not a surprise, had not been expected so soon by most of the board. On Monday, after he quit, efforts by Allbritton and the company to orchestrate the public announcement of the resignation fell apart when directors of the holding company and Riggs Bank could not agree on the language used to publicly acknowledge Allbritton's contributions to the company, according to sources familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition they remain anonymous because the board's discussions are confidential.
"The Boards accepted his resignation and wished him well in his future endeavors," the company said in a written statement issued yesterday afternoon.
Asked why it took two days to publicly respond to the resignation, Riggs spokesman Mark N. Hendrix said, "In light of Robert Allbritton's resignations, the Riggs boards wanted to carefully, thoroughly consider who would be best suited to head the respective boards of the company and the bank."
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which has closely monitored Riggs since early last year and must approve any senior executive appointments, was informed of Allbritton's replacements, the company said. Riggs was fined a record $25 million by the OCC last spring for failing to comply with anti-money-laundering laws, and in January the bank pleaded guilty and paid a $16 million fine for failing to prevent possible money laundering by former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and officials of the West African nation of Equatorial Guinea.
Terracciano, a longtime banking industry executive, joined Riggs's holding company board last May, just as the company's anti-money-laundering problems were blossoming into a regulatory and criminal scandal. Since then, he has been heavily involved in the company's dealings with regulators and with PNC Financial Services Group Inc., a Pittsburgh bank that plans to buy Riggs for about $650 million by the end of May. He held senior executive positions with a number of major banks before retiring in 1997.
Hebert has worked for the Allbritton family in a number of capacities -- in banking, insurance and broadcasting -- for more than 20 years. When Joe L. Allbritton retired from Riggs in 2001, he named his son, Robert, chairman and chief executive of the holding company and Hebert chief executive of Riggs Bank. With Robert Allbritton spending most of his time running the family broadcasting business, Hebert has been acting as the senior executive at the company since 2001.
The Allbritton family has controlled Riggs since 1981 and controls about 40 percent of the stock.
Fitzgerald is a D.C. employee benefits lawyer who joined Riggs Bank's board in 1999.