He may have apologised, but in almost the same breath Ricardo Ângelo has claimed that Carlos Costa “defrauded” small investors who bought commercial paper issued by the disintegrating Espírito Santo banking empire by the mere fact that he did not protect them.
As the ongoing battle for over €500 million of investors’ “lost” savings continues, TVI24 reports that three branches of Novo Banco were searched by banking regulators CMVM today (Monday) “looking for documents relating to the alleged sale of commercial paper by societies of Grupo Espírito Santo”.
It is a move that will be welcomed by AIEPC, the association of damaged and indignant commercial paper holders, led by Ricardo Ângelo.
AIEPC’s dogged insistence that thousands of small investors’ life savings should be honoured by Novo Banco – the “good bank” that morphed from the ashes of the BES debacle – is now truly making Carlos Costa squirm.
As has been repeatedly reported, both Costa and Novo Banco chief Eduardo Stock da Cunha have claimed there is no legal mechanism that obliges the “good bank” to reimburse the thousands who lost their shirts in the controversial “carve-up” – but the morality of such claims remains highly questionable, particularly as both men are hell-bent on selling Novo Banco for the best price they can get.
The bank recently registered eye-watering losses of €469 million. Thus, the acceptance of a liability that would double losses is likely to send potential buyers running for the hills.
That, however, is a problem for the bankers, claims AIEPC, which is now cautiously optimistic over negotiations so far with Novo Banco’s administration.
Leaving a meeting last Friday, Ricardo Ângelo said that no concrete proposals had been received, but that his reception had been “a lot more friendly” than he imagined it would be.
There is a “willingness” to find a solution for his members “problems”, he told reporters, but this far that willingness does not appear to be shared by the Bank of Portugal.
In fact, the Bank of Portugal remains “the main stumbling block” to any solution, he told Jornal de Negócios.
AIEPC currently represents 700 people “damaged” by the collapse of BES. It welcomes anyone who held commercial paper in any of the Espírito Santo group of companies to come onboard. Contact details are as follows: e-mail: [email protected] Phone: 960 102 181 (preferably between 2pm to 8pm).
By NATASHA DONN
Photo: MANUEL DE ALMEIDA/LUSA