Silicon Valley Bank’s former CEO Greg Becker told senators at a hearing that he was unaware the bank was in trouble when he sold stock in the months leading up to the regional US lender’s collapse.
Becker, who sold SVB shares through the first quarter – the largest sale of which occurred on Feb 27, less than two weeks before the bank collapsed on March 10, triggering a rout in banking shares globally.
Responding to questions from senators, Becker painted a picture of an unprecedented, unpredictable crisis at the bank. He said the bank took risk management seriously and had liquidity of around $80 billion at the end of last year.
Lawmakers were unimpressed.
“Why did you ignore admonitions from regulators?” Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said in his opening statement.
“There is a simple answer, the same answer we find for most big bank failures — because the executives were getting rich.”
Responding to criticism about the bank lacking a risk officer in the months leading up to its collapse, Becker said he had been advised by regulators to look for a more experienced executive for the position. He pledged to cooperate with regulators as they look at executive compensation.
“Mr. Becker you made a really stupid bet that went bad, didn’t you,” said Louisiana Senator John Kennedy. “And the taxpayers of America had to pick up the tab for your stupidity.”