Allfirst executive to retire next month

King, 25-year veteran, was official in charge of risk assessment group

April 24, 2002|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

Two-and-a-half months after being shaken by a currency trading scandal that resulted in a $691.2 million loss, Allfirst Financial Inc. said yesterday that the executive in charge of its risk assessment group will retire at the end of May.

Brian L. King, 56, who has worked at Allfirst for more than 25 years, will leave to devote more time to charitable and other nonprofit organizations, the company announcement said.

King, whose group oversees a number of areas, including internal audit, legal and credit review, did not return calls.

Allfirst said King's departure coincides with a plan announced last year to consolidate finance and risk management areas companywide and to centralize some functions in Dublin, Ireland, home of Allfirst's parent, Allied Irish Banks PLC.

However, an internal investigation, headed by Eugene A. Ludwig, former U.S. comptroller of the currency, recommended the hiring of a new head of the risk assessment group.

King is the eighth Allfirst employee to retire or be fired in the wake of the debacle that the bank blames on John M. Rusnak, who hid millions of dollars in losses from foreign currency trading. Rusnak has been fired.

The Ludwig report also concluded last month that Allfirst's oversight and controls were riddled with weaknesses.

Six employees were fired, and Allied Irish appointed one of its executives, Eugene C. Sheehy, as chairman of Allfirst to replace Frank P. Bramble when he retires Tuesday.

Ludwig's report mentioned King in connection with talks he apparently had with Bramble about a large settlement involving trades that Rusnak made.

Rusnak's trades become so large that in March 2000, Citibank called Allied Irish's treasurer, Pat Ryan, wondering if Allfirst could cover transactions in which more than $1 billion was to be exchanged with the large New York bank.

Ryan inquired and was told that Allfirst's $1 billion liability was offset by an even bigger figure owed Allfirst by Citibank. The answer satisfied him.

According to the report, King kept personal notes that "reflect apparent conversations with Allfirst's chairman [Bramble] about the Citibank inquiry and the explanation for the $1 billion settlement item ... "

Ludwig's report said that Bramble did not recall talking to King about Citibank's inquiry, "and the chairman's calendar indicates that he was on vacation on one of the days that appears on the notes."

King's notes are "reasonably detailed and highly critical of the treasury operation and the environment there," the report said.

In June, King was named chairman-elect of the Maryland Bankers Association. Yesterday the bank said King would step down from the group when his term ends next month.

Maryland Bankers Association officials were unaware of King's decision. "There is nothing really to say because we don't know," said Gretchen Wyatt, a group spokeswoman.

King joined Allfirst in 1975 after working as assistant dean of the College of Business and Economics at the University of Delaware. Before heading the risk assessment group, King was vice president of human resources.

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