Fifth Third Bancorp fired its general counsel late last week, people familiar with the matter said.
It isn't yet known who will replace Heather Russell Koenig, who was chief legal officer and corporate secretary for the Cincinnati-based bank. A spokesman for Fifth Third confirmed Monday that Ms. Russell Koenig is no longer with the bank.
In a statement, the bank said: "A personal matter has been brought to our attention that Fifth Third believes represents a conflict of interest. To resolve this, we have determined that the best course of action was a separation. Heather is a very qualified lawyer, and this matter has nothing to do with any of the legal work done by Heather during her tenure at Fifth Third."
Ms. Russell Koenig wasn't immediately available to comment. She has served as the top lawyer at Fifth Third since late September 2015, following work at Bank of New York Mellon as chief regulatory counsel and head of public policy and regulatory affairs. Earlier, she worked at Bank of America Corp. and law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.
Fifth Third reports second-quarter earnings on July 28. The bank has dealt with a string of legal issues in recent years and tried to put them in the past by entering into government settlements to resolve the cases.
In September 2015 the bank settled with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Justice Department to resolve allegations of discriminatory auto-loan pricing, paying $18 million to minority auto borrowers. At the time, the CFPB also settled with the bank over allegedly illegal credit-card practices, and Fifth Third paid $3 million to credit-card customers.
The following month, Fifth Third settled with the Manhattan U.S. Attorney for $85 million over alleged failures to self-report defective mortgage loans to the Federal Housing Administration.
Those settlements contributed to a recent downgrade to the bank's Community Reinvestment Act rating. This is a key fair-lending evaluation that weighs on a bank's ability to pursue mergers. "Fifth Third Bank is fully committed to meeting the needs of all of the communities it serves," the bank said in a statement at the time.
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