CEO of Austrian bank RBI offers resignation over property revelations

By bne IntelliNews May 24, 2013

bne -

Herbert Stepic, the chief executive of Austria's Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI), offered his resignation on May 24, according to a statement issued by the bank. The move follows reports earlier this week that Stepic used letterbox firms in offshore centres for property deals that he did not report to his employer.

"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 responsible committees at RBI will promptly consider this proposal," the statement said.

A separate announcement read that "in light of recent events," a press conference would be held at the bank's Vienna headquarters at 10:00am on Friday, May 24.

The move from Stepic - who was a pioneer of banking in the new markets of Emerging Europe following the end of communism, and helped make RBI's unlisted parent Raiffeisen Zentralbank into one of the top three players in the region - follows a report by Austria's News on May 22. The magazine reported that Stepic's name had come up in the "Offshore Leaks" project - a campaign by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to expose the owners of secretive trusts in offshore centres.

News, a partner in the project that began with a leak of documents unmasking the details of 130,000 offshore accounts in April, reported Stepic owned mailbox firms Yatsenko International Ltd. in the British Virgin Islands, and Takego Holdings Ltd. in Hong Kong. The magazine quoted Stepic as confirming the information, although he stressed the firms named were "not offshore constructions" but "project companies" used to buy three flats in Singapore, with their income taxed in Austria.

Asked why he did not make the firms public, he said the arrangement was offered as standard by Swiss bank UBS to preserve the privacy of customers. Asked if he had paid tax in Austria on the income from selling one of the Singapore flats, Stepic said he had "always acted in line with tax regulations".

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