RBA CEO Mueller resigns in wake of PR agency affair

NEWS 22.01.2020 19:30
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Source: Dalibor Urukalovic/PIXSELL

Michael Mueller, the president of the management board of the Raiffeisen Bank (RBA), resigned on Wednesday in the wake of the negative perception in public regarding a tender to procure the services of a PR agency, the bank has reported.

I am aware of the strong negative perception emerged concerning the Raiffeisen Bank and its management and I stress that the said document in no way reflects the intention of the bank’s management. I have decided to resign in order to protect the bank’s reputation, Mueller said.

The press release notes that Andreas Gschwenter is Chief Operating & Information Officer at Raiffeisen Bank International AG and Chairman of Raiffeisen Bank Zrt has accepted Mueller’s resignation.

Following approval by the Croatian National Bank (HNB), Liana Keseric will be acting president of the management board at RBA, the press release notes.

Mueller’s resignation comes after it was disclosed the RBA was seeking a PR agency that would exert pressure on the Croatian Constitutional Court over the case of the Swiss franc-pegged loans.

The Index news portal on Sunday reported that RBA was seeking PR agency for crisis communication regarding Swiss franc-denominated loans and that one of its tasks includes “exerting pressure on the Constitutional Court and other courts in Croatia.”

RBA explained that it had advertised the tender to engage a PR agency with the aim of the bank’s stance being equally represented in the case CHF-pegged loans.

“The task of the agency was solely intended as a way to make the other side of the case gain more publicity, since it has not had much of a reach so far. In all activities, including this tender, we have sought legitimate procedures as our solutions, that is, communication activities which would reach their target audience through the media,” RBA said.

However, the tender came across negative reactions and the Franak association on Monday reacted sharply to the news of the tender. The SNAGA party and the Franak association on Tuesday asked the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor to investigate an attempt by Raiffeisen Bank (RBA) to hire a PR agency to put pressure on courts in a case in which bank contracts on loans pegged to the Swiss franc were nullified.

The HNB on Monday reported that it was unpleasantly surprised by that commercial lender’s advertisement for a PR agency and that it would urgently conduct an inspection of RBA and take the necessary steps.