Less than a week after being penalized $24 million by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, PRA Group announced last night that it was replacing Kevin Stevenson, the co-founder of the company, with Vikram Atal, who will be the company’s new president and chief executive.
Stevenson had served as president and CEO since 2017. Atal has served on the company’s board of directors for the past eight years. He was formerly the vice chair of Citigroup’s worldwide credit card operation, which had 30,000 employees. He is also on the board of Goldman Sachs.
“I feel privileged to have the opportunity to serve the talented and deeply experienced team of PRA Group from an exciting new vantage point,” Atal said in a statement. “Our strategic focus as a company remains unchanged — capitalizing intelligently on the near-term growth we expect in the receivables pipeline; optimizing operational performance with customers and controls at the center; building out our global expansion into newer markets; and continuing to identify and test new opportunities that complement our core franchise. And we will do so without ever losing sight of our values and the responsibility to our communities that have been key to PRA Group’s sustained performance and will contribute to our future success.”
Stevenson co-founded the company, then called Portfolio Recovery Associates, with Steve Fredrickson, in 1996. Starting with just four employees, the company has grown to be one of the largest debt buyers in the world, employing 3,000 people in 18 countries worldwide.
The timing of the announcement is deeply curious. Last week, the CFPB announced that PRA Group had violated the terms of a 2015 enforcement order and fined the company $12 million. PRA Group also agreed to pay $12.18 million to consumers. The company — which admitted no wrongdoing as part of the action — was accused of making representations about unsubstantiated debts, threatening consumers with legal action or pursued collection lawsuits without offering or possessing the required documentation, misrepresenting that it would provide certain documents in a timely manner, collecting on time-barred debt without making the proper disclosures, and suing to collect on time-barred debt.