Finance minister Mário Centeno woke up today to the reality of a disaster that has been looming for weeks: the hand-picked team of financial ‘wizards’ who were going to lead State Bank Caixa Geral de Depósitos back to liquidity is no more as directors have decided resignation preferable to declaring the true extent of their wealth.
The stampede began with the decision by António Domingues, president of the administrative council, to “slam the door”, explain newspapers.
Domingues “felt offended” by the results of a vote in parliament on Friday by MPs of all political hues. The bottom line: that anyone working for a public company must lodge a declaration of earnings has also been ‘supported’ by prime minister António Costa and president of the republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. Thus Domingues is said to have felt doubly offended – particularly as his line in this less than edifying affair is that from the outset he was assured his team would be spared the onus of declarations of wealth.
Needless to say, there is now much to do. First of all the government has to find a new team, acceptable to the European Central Bank, that can lead troubled CGD out of the woods.
At issue are bad loans said to total as much as €5 billion – a number of them to tourism resorts like Comporta – formerly owned by the Espírito Santo family – and Vale do Lobo in the Algarve.
Then there is the question of ‘compensation’, says Correio da Manhã, as Domingues and his team have been on millionaire salaries – without really having anything to show for them.
As commentators were already saying last night, no-one is coming out of this story smelling good.
Centeno and his secretary of state Mourinho Félix are equally in the spotlight for their handling of the whole issue, but this week will be pivotal for how quickly the government can be seen to turn this embarrassing page and move on.
For now, bets are on former PSD health minister Paulo Macedo to take over from Domingues and construct a new team around him.
Macedo has years of experience working within BCP, and has also been tipped for a top job at the Bank of Portugal.
Other contenders for the team that has to be assembled fast are bank regulator Carlos Tavares of the CMVM, and Nuno Amado – currently president at BCP.
Meantime, as of this morning, six directors are reported to have “followed Domingues in slamming the door” on their roles at CGD, all due to the reluctance to play by ‘public’ rules.
STOP PRESS 11am:
Noticiasaominuto reports that the controversy appears to have no end: “Just when we thought the subject was closed with his resignation, António Domingues has decided to present his so-closely guarded declaration of assets”.
The short news story continues: “Doubts surrounding António Domingues will not dissipate, but there will certainly be a clearer idea of the wealth and income of the outgoing president of CGD from today”.