President of Proposed Ethiopian Diaspora Bank Quits After Board Dispute

Ethiopian-American banker Zekarias Tamrat announced that he has walked away from his position as President of Marathon International, a recently proposed Ethiopian Diaspora Bank, after a dispute with the Board's leadership. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

August 10th, 2018

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian-American banker Zekarias Tamrat, who was slated to become President of Marathon International, the proposed first ever Ethiopian Diaspora Bank, has resigned amid a heated Board dispute.

In a recent letter titled “Investor Alert” that was shared with Tadias Magazine Zekarias, who previously worked at PNC and Bank of America, said “for the past year and a half, I have been working as the president of Marathon International Bank, setting up the infrastructure, vendor identification, staff selection, feasibility study and worked on a business plan.” Zekarias noted: “So far FDIC sent our application back twice indicating ‘significantly incomplete.’”

According to the American Banker, “organizers did not include all of Marathon’s policies and procedures in their initial application, [Zekarias] said in the interview. The second time, the agency expressed concern that several directors lived in different states and would be unable to come in and run the bank.”

Zekarias reiterates that “there is still a chance to resubmit a new application. However, the FDIC numerously communicated to us that the current board members are not fit to serve. Knowing this would eventually resurface, the Board and its chairman decided to go forward.”

In his interview with the American Banker, Zekarias said that he still hopes the project could be revived, but insisted that the board has to be reorganized from scratch. Zekarias noted that “he would be open to rejoining the de novo if that happens.” The American Banker said it had also reached out to the current chairman of Marathon International, Tekalign Gedamu, a retired economist and former managing director of the Development Bank of Ethiopia, but Tekalign was not immediately available for comment.

“The FDIC is not the problem,” Zekarias told the American Banker. “They are really helping us by asking us to correct our mistakes.”

Zekarias had initially been equally optimistic about the launching of the bank, expressing enthusiastically to the media that Marathon International would be a groundbreaking venture for the Diaspora. “Our vision is to help transform the Ethiopian community into a far more economically engaged, creative and vibrant member of the wider and diverse U.S. community,” Zekarias had said. The aim was “to become a differentiated provider of financial services by leveraging our understanding of the unique financial needs of the Ethiopian American Community.”

The American Banker further points out that “organizers filed an application with the FDIC in mid-January. They plan on raising $22 million to $25 million in initial capital” while “Gregory Garrett, who previously served as president and CEO of Platinum Bank in Lubbock, Texas, was identified in the application as the proposed bank’s CEO. Several prominent Ethiopian-Americans agreed to serve on Marathon’s board.”

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