Outrage as credit union buys $1.35m mansion for executive

MEMBER-owned financial institutions are usually fairly lean and mean operations.

So how come the new general manager of the Bananacoast Community Credit Union (commonly referred to as BCU) is living in a luxurious home bought especially for him by parent company P&N Bank?

City Beat can exclusively reveal that BCU top gun Mike Ribbens, who oversees operations in southeast Queensland and northern NSW, is the lucky resident of the $1.35 million dwelling at Korora, just outside Coffs Harbour.

Mike Ribbens
Mike Ribbens

Property records show that a subsidiary entity, P&N Landreach Pty Ltd, acquired the four-bedroom residence, on a 975 sqm block complete with wine cellar, in February and settled the purchase in March. A real estate blurb at the time described it as "epitomising coastal luxury''.

Ribbens, who is one of three directors of P&N Landreach, relocated from Perth where he had previously been based with P&N Bank as its chief risk officer.

 

 

VENTING FURY

Some would say such a lavish purchase is just not a good look for the freshly-merged BCU and P&N Bank, which joined forces in November following overwhelming approval from stakeholders.

It's now one of the biggest lenders of its kind in the nation, although we understand there have been a few IT hiccups and other teething issues since the two camps came together.

With the revelation of the splash out on the big house, you can expect plenty of the 150,000 or so members to vent their fury at the group's AGM later this year.

"It defies belief that the head of BCU is living it up in a $1.3 million mansion that most members could not afford,'' one stakeholder fumed.

"Shareholders who founded BCU are currently doing it tough in regional NSW and Queensland. All the while, our money is paying for a bank boss to live a 'premier lifestyle' in coastal luxury. It stinks."

The home bought for Mike Ribbens
The home bought for Mike Ribbens

Ribbens could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

But group chairman-elect Steve Targett, a former CEO of RACQ Bank who first joined BCU as chairman in late 2018, defended the property purchase.

"The challenge for us was that Mike searched for somewhere suitable to live and he couldn't really come up with anything,'' Targett told your diarist.

"When he went there he didn't understand the market very well. I think he discovered it was quite difficult to find a suitable house.

"This property was seen as the best one and obviously it's an asset of the group, not just for Mike. It's just a commercial decision we had to make for an executive moving from Perth.

"We had quite a discussion at board level and we thought it was the best alternative.''

So is Ribbens paying rent? Targett couldn't say.

 

FURTHER EMBARRASSMENT

Meanwhile, BCU faces further embarrassment when its disgraced former CEO, Lyndon Kingston, returns to court late next month.

Kingston is expected to enter a plea after he was charged by ASIC in December with three counts of dishonest use of his position as a director and two counts of providing false information.

He has also been charged with two counts of making a false document, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in the iron motel.

Lyndon Kingston with his wife, Anna
Lyndon Kingston with his wife, Anna

Kingston spent almost 10 years at the helm of BCU until he was fired for "serious misconduct'' in late 2017.

BCU later alleged in court documents that he took $2.5 million in kickbacks from "uncommercial'' contracts, approved a $345,000 "sham redundancy'' payout to his wife and claimed $91,000 in fraudulent "living away from home'' expenses.

That case was eventually discontinued but the credit union's lawsuit against his missus, Anna, remains before the Supreme Court in Brisbane. The couple have denied any wrongdoing.

Originally published as Outrage as credit union buys $1.35m mansion for executive


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