CEO of Hellenic Bank Oliver Gatzke has been placed on compulsory leave by the board of directors pending an internal investigation into allegations of statements and actions attributed to him.

In a brief statement informing the Cyprus Stock Exchange of its decision on Monday morning, the Hellenic Bank board said that following the allegations it had decided “in order to ensure the smooth conducting of the investigations, it was necessary for the CEO to abstain from his duties until the completion of the said investigations.”

During his absence, he will be replaced by Petros Arsalides, secretary of the board of directors/ general manager of the chairman’s office and of the secretariat of the board.

The Cyprus News Agency reported that the investigations were triggered after allegations were made against Gatzke at the last AGM of the bank, held in late September.

A number of media outlets reported the same reason behind Hellenic’s decision to put its CEO on temporary leave. The allegations concern remarks attributed to Gatzke.

At the AGM Nearchos Ioannou, the CEO of Demetra Holdings – a large shareholder in Hellenic – alleged that during a prior event Gatzke had urged staff to buy bank shares because, as Gatzke allegedly said at the time, the stock was undervalued.

During his speech before shareholders, Ioannou called this behaviour “unacceptable”. He did not name Gatzke, referring instead to a “senior executive”.

Ioannou’s remarks at the AGM were covered by the media at the time. Ioannou had also strongly criticised the bank’s financial performance, as well as the decision to downsize on personnel as that would adversely affect customer service.