Sessoms resigns from TowneBank

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms has resigned from his position as President and CEO of TowneBank Financial Services Group.

Sessoms released the following statement Tuesday evening:

In light of a new policy being initiated at TowneBank beginning this January, I have decided to resign and take early retirement from TowneBank effective immediately. 

Next to my own family, the TowneBank family remains near and dear to my heart.

The resignation is the result of a change in TowneBank’s corporate policy that forbids paid members of executive management from being elected officials, according to a TowneBank press release.

Document: TowneBank statement on Sessoms’ retirement

Sessoms stepped down from his position on the Board of Directors at Towne Financial Services last month, after backlash from a Virginian-Pilot investigation that alleged the mayor used his votes on Virginia Beach City Council to benefit TowneBank clients.

TowneBank’s board of directors then voted to make Sessoms choose between his position at the bank and being mayor.

When asked why TowneBank adopted the new corporate policy prohibiting senior management from holding elective office, the company released the following response:

As a result of the allegations regarding certain votes that Will Sessoms cast as mayor, it caused the bank’s Board of Directors to reevaluate our policy regarding senior management serving in elected office. Because of the broad and often confusing nature of what is considered a conflict of interest under Virginia law and the challenge of always knowing whether a potential conflict even exists, it is best going forward for TowneBank to have this new policy.

In a press release, Chairman and CEO of TowneBank G. Robert Aston Jr. said Tuesday that the company will give Sessoms three more years of his $450,000 salary and benefits, as well as an annual retirement plan of $215,104 for 15 years, starting at age 65.

Document: Terms of TowneBank-Sessoms separation agreement

Sessoms told the decision to leave TowneBank was at the end of a resolution that benefited both himself and TowneBank.

“We are grateful for the exceptional leadership that Will has provided to our Financial Services Group and to our entire company,” Aston said in the release. “All of us here in the Towne family thank him for all of his many contributions and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Tuesday night, Sessoms reiterated to WAVY News’ Andy Fox that he will not resign from being the mayor of Virginia Beach, a position he has held since 2009. The city pays Mayor Sessoms an annual salary of $35,000.

Last month, Virginia Beach Circuit Court selected Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Doucette as the special prosecutor to review the conflict of interest allegations against Sessoms.

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