The man who presided over Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse apparently hasn’t stuck around to watch the dust settle—he’s headed for his $3.1 million Hawaiian hideaway.
Former CEO of SVB, Gregory Becker, has been pictured sauntering through the streets of Lahaina, a beachside resort, where he owns a condo.
Wearing shorts, sunglasses and flip-flops, Becker’s image is at odds with the scene back in California. SVB imploded this time last week after depositors tried to withdraw $42 billion from the institution. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) took over the bank at the weekend, before colleagues at the New York Department of Financial Services leapt into action and took possession of Signature Bank on Sunday.
The impact of the run on the bank has been wide-ranging. Investors have millions of dollars tied up in the embattled institution, small businesses are wondering if they can cover their payroll, and a lack of confidence in the wider banking sector has potentially had a knock-on impact on other institutions.
Debate is also raging over whether President Biden was right to step in and guarantee a backstop for deposits with the bank beyond the $250,000 benchmark –with the Federal Reserve insisting taxpayers wouldn’t front the fallout of SVB’s $220 billion-worth of uninsured assets.
Becker, who has served as CEO of SVB for 12 years, has been among a raft of individuals blamed for the bank’s collapse. Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary blasted the firm’s “idiot management”—a charge echoed by members of staff at the institution who dubbed Becker’s decision-making as “absolutely idiotic”.
Speaking to CNN, an anonymous member of staff said they were dumbfounded that Becker had publicly acknowledged the state the organization was in before securing any financial safety net. The staffer added: “It’s the exact opposite of what you’d normally see in a scandal. But their transparency and forthright-ness did them in.”
Becker has also caught the attention of the authorities after he sold shares in SVB worth nearly $30 million over the past two years—with deals going through in the days before the bank disclosed a $1.8 billion loss on a portfolio sold to Goldman Sachs. Becker’s sale of $3.6 million worth of shares went through on Feb. 27 according to figures from Smart Insider, selling at prices ranging from $287 a share to $598 a share.
He’s not the only one—reports from CNBC claim execs at the business sold shares worth a total of $84 million in the past 24 months. The company’s CFO Daniel Beck offloaded around a third of his stake in the business on the same day Becker’s sale filtered through—a total of around $575,000 worth of shares.
According to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are both investigating the sales.
Soaking up the sun
In addition to an investigation, Becker is also facing heat from congress. Silicon Valley-based Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna tweeted that “whatever” Becker’s motives were for selling, the $3.6 million windfall he received days before the bank’s collapse should be returned to SVB customers.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Khanna also highlighted that it’s “important to understand before casting aspersions on someone’s motives whether it is a scheduled sale…which are done many months before,” he said. “We do need all the facts to come out before jumping to conclusions.”
SVB chief executive Greg Becker sold $3.6 million worth of shares on February 27th. I have said that there should be a clawback of that money. Whatever his motives, and we should find out, that $3.6 million should go to depositors.
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) March 14, 2023
Becker is apparently showing no signs of cutting back his spending. According to the Daily Mail, Becker and his wife Marilyn Bautista were picked up in a chauffeur-driven limousine on Monday afternoon and were taken to San Francisco Airport. The pair then boarded a first-class flight to Maui’s Kahului Airport. The gated community their holiday home is in features a tennis court, three swimming pools, three surf breaks and a clubhouse for the community.
Taking the reins
SVB’s 8,500 employees might find some stability in the company’s incoming CEO, Tim Mayopoulos. The former president and CEO of Fannie Mae—a government-backed home loan buyer and guarantor—steered the business out of the 2008 financial crisis.
Hitting the ground running, Mayopoulos wrote to clients the same day Becker touched down on Hawaii. The letter sought to pour water on any panic, saying the institution is “open and conducting business as usual.”
According to Insider he adds: “We are here to serve you. I recognize the past few days have been an extremely challenging time for our clients and our employees, and we are grateful for the support of the amazing community we serve.
“We know many of you have questions and we appreciate your patience as our dedicated team works as quickly as possible to serve you. More information will be provided as soon as it is available.
“I look forward to getting to know the clients of Silicon Valley Bank. I come to this role with humility. I also come to this role with experience in these kinds of situations.”
SVB, via the FDIC, did not immediately respond when approached by Fortune for comment.