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TOP EXEC QUITS POST AT WYOMING COUNTY BANK
REVIEW FOUND SOME PROBLEMS AT THE BANK

Jon J. Cooper, the president and chief executive officer of Wyoming County Bank, has resigned as the Financial Institutions subsidiary grapples with problems with its loan portfolio.

Cooper resigned on April 1, a week after reaching an agreement with the bank on a severance package that will pay him more than $220,000, plus any bonus that he earned last year. Cooper also will get to retain his company car and will receive other unspecified benefits for up to one year.

Cooper's departure, which was disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, makes him the second top executive at one of Financial Institutions' four banks to resign since the end of February.

The filing did not name a replacement for Cooper. Financial Institutions executives could not be reached to comment on Tuesday.

The Warsaw-based banking company is grappling with a high level of bad business loans. Financial Institutions warned last month that it would have to restate its earnings for the fourth quarter and all of 2004 to reflect additional money that it needed to set aside to cover loan losses, reducing its previously reported profits by $3.7 million.

Cooper's resignation follows the departure at the end of February of Randolph C. Brown, the president of the National Bank of Geneva, which has been cited by federal banking regulators for the high degree of risk in its loan portfolio and an "unsatisfactory" level of supervision by its management and directors.

Most of Financial Institutions' bad loans have been centered at the National Bank of Geneva and Bath National Bank, although an independent review disclosed last December also found problems at Wyoming County Bank, its biggest subsidiary.

Those problems included incomplete or inaccurate credit analyses on loans and a failure to act in a timely fashion on new information that might affect a loan's risk rating. The review also found deficiencies in the way Wyoming County Bank's loan portfolio was administered and criticized the bank's record keeping and documentation.

Financial Institutions, which also runs First Tier Bank & Trust Co., has a total of 50 branches in 15 counties, including four Wyoming County Bank branches in Erie County.

e-mail: drobinson@buffnews.com