Inside Long Island Business

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Suffolk bank names ex-SEC official its CEO

Howard C. Bluver, the new president and CEO

Howard C. Bluver, the new president and CEO of Riverhead-based Suffolk County National Bank, said much more work needs to be done to resolve the bank’s problems. (Credit: Chris Ware)

Howard C. Bluver was called in by Suffolk Bancorp several months ago as a consultant to help manage a crisis: late financial reports had placed its stock in danger of delisting.

Yesterday, the corporate parent of Suffolk County National Bank announced that what began as a friendship had turned into a marriage: Bluver, a former Securities and Exchange Commission official, was named president and chief executive.

Bluver, 55,, who was born in Brooklyn, raised in Nassau County and educated in law and political science, replaced J. Gordon Huszagh, a 29-year employee of the bank. Huszagh said in a statement, "I have come to the conclusion that a change in leadership would be in the best interest of our loyal stockholders."

The 30-branch Suffolk County National Bank has about 360 employees.

In a filing with the SEC, Suffolk said Bluver will earn an annual base salary of $360,000, an initial bonus of $200,000, stock options and an annual long-term incentive award.

In his first day on the job, Bluver, whose consulting firm JDS Financial is based in Uniondale, said his work for Suffolk led to a job offer from its board of directors. "I got to know the board very well and many of the senior managers at the bank very well, and came to respect very much the institution and its core franchise," he said.

He said more needs to be done to ensure there will be no repeat of the shortcomings -- including a $4.7 million understatement in the bank's allowance for loan losses -- that led to last year's crisis. The bank faces several shareholder suits and an informal inquiry by the SEC into its accounting. "A lot of progress has been made" on the bank's problems, he said, "but there is a lot more work to do."

The bank announced Dec. 21 that it filed overdue results for the third quarter of last year -- showing a profit of $3 million, compared with a restated loss for the same period in 2010 of $3.1 million -- and overdue or restated results for other quarters. "Suffolk is now current in its filings," it said. Suffolk said it was told by regulators the delisting issue is now moot.

Bluver founded JDS in 2005. From 1994 to 2005, he was executive vice president, general counsel and chief enterprise risk officer at GreenPoint Bank and GreenPoint Financial Corp. in Manhattan. He started his career at the SEC, finishing as chief of the Corporation Finance division covering financial institutions.

In Nasdaq trading Tuesday, Suffolk Bancorp's shares closed at $11.51, up 72 cents.

Above, Suffolk Bancorp's new president and chief executive, Howard Bluver

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Tags: banking , Suffolk Bancorp , Suffolk County national bank , SEC , Nasdaq

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