November 14, 2018 / 12:11 PM / 6 months ago

Shares in Poland's Getin Noble Bank tumble amid corruption scandal

WARSAW, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Shares in Getin Noble Bank fell by more than a fifth on Wednesday, a day after the boss of Poland’s financial watchdog quit following newspaper reports he had sought a large bribe from the bank.

Shares in the bank, which is Poland’s ninth lender by assets, were down 21.6 percent by 1100 GMT, taking their year to date drop to close to 70 percent.

Getin Noble Bank said in a statement the fall in its shares was due to external factors and not related to the bank’s financial situation.

Marek Chrzanowski, head of the KNF financial market regulator, denied the newspaper corruption allegations. The PAP news agency quoted him as saying that he was stepping down out of “a sense of responsibility for the functioning of regulatory supervision over the financial sector”.

Chrzanowski did not immediately reply to requests for comment from Reuters on Wednesday.

The sharp fall in the bank’s share price adds to the challenges facing the loss-making lender, which has a credit portfolio with a significant number of bad loans, market analysts said.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has demanded an investigation of reports that Chrzanowski asked Getin to hire a specific lawyer and pay him a salary equal to one percent of the bank’s capitalisation, around $10.5 million.

In return the mid-tier lender would receive “support” from the regulator, the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza and the Financial Times reported, citing a deposition to Polish prosecutors from Getin Noble Bank’s billionaire owner, Leszek Czarnecki.

Reuters has seen a copy of the deposition.

The lawyer named in the document, Grzegorz Kowalczyk, told Reuters the newspaper reports were the first he had heard of the allegations. He said he had never consented to anyone seeking a job for him at Getin, had never talked to Leszek Czarnecki and knew Marek Chrzanowski only in a private capacity. (Reporting by Marcin Goclowski and Pawel Sobczak; editing by Jon Boyle and Louise Heavens)

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