Today’s news that Renaud Laplanche, founder of Lending Club, resigns came as a surprise for me and I think pretty much everybody else in the industry. Renaud Laplanche steered Lending Club from launch to the position it as the largest marketplace lending service for consumer loans in the US.
The board has reportedly asked for his resination after an investigation into a sale of 22 million US$ in loans to an institutional investor that mismatched the investor’s criteria. The loans were subsequently repurchased by Lending Club.
Today’s press release states:
Lending Club conducted a review, under the supervision of a sub-committee of the board of directors and with the assistance of independent outside counsel and other advisors, regarding non-conforming sales to a single, accredited institutional investor of $22 million of near-prime loans ($15 million in March and $7 million in April). The loans in question failed to conform to the investor’s express instructions as to a non-credit and non-pricing element. Certain personnel apparently were aware that the sale did not meet the investor’s criteria.
In early April 2016, Lending Club repurchased these loans at par and subsequently resold them at par to another investor. As a result of the repurchase, as of March 31, 2016, these loans were recorded as secured borrowings on the Company’s balance sheet and were also recorded at fair value. The financial impact of this reporting is that the Company was unable to recognize approximately $150,000 in revenue as of March 31, 2016, related to gains on sales of these loans.
The review began with discovery of a change in the application dates for $3.0 million of the loans described above, which was promptly remediated. The board also hired an outside expert firm to review all other loans facilitated in the first quarter of 2016 and the firm did not find changes to data in these or other Q1 loans.
The review further discovered another matter unrelated to the sale of the loans, involving a failure to inform the board’s Risk Committee of personal interests held in a third party fund while the Company was contemplating an investment in the same fund. This lack of disclosure had no impact on financial results for the first quarter.
Given the events above, the Company took, and will continue to take, remediation steps to resolve the material weaknesses in internal control over financial reporting identified in the first quarter of 2016 — one related to the sales of non-conforming loans and the other to the failure to disclose the personal investment interests — and to restore the effectiveness of its disclosure controls and procedures. These remediation steps included the termination or resignation of three senior managers involved in the sales of the $22 million of near-prime loans.
Scott Sanborn will continue in his role of President and will become acting CEO.
The LC stock is currently trading 25% down following the news.