€25 million price tag for 2.4 years of Novo Banco ‘consultancy’

With the prime minister due to address the country at 7pm this evening over the finalising of the sale of Novo Banco, Público has revealed that Portugal’s central bank has spent “more than €25 million” on external consulting over the process in just a little over two years.

The figure covers ‘expenses on financial and juridical consultancies between August 2014 and the end of 2016’, says the paper.

Beneficiaries include Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, TC Capital and Portuguese law firm Vieira de Almeida & Associates (VdA).

In 2015, national media revealed that the fees charged by Deutsche Bank/ BNP came to €15 million, while three contracts for legal consulting with VdA came to €1.5 million each, adds Público – stressing that British law firm Allen & Overy also received €2.1 million, while the Bank of Portugal went on to hire Spanish law firm Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira & Associados, paying them around €245,000 for “support” in the Novo Banco and Banif processes.

Elsewhere in the bank’s outlay were payments to former transport minister Sérgio Monteiro brought in from protracted negotiations over the privatisation of TAP in 2015 to accelerate Novo Banco’s sale on a bumper salary: €304,800 per year plus IVA (with a contract extension of €152,400).

And all the while – as banks throughout the country were tightening their belts and restructuring – the central bank has actually increased its quota of staff.

“The growth of expenses on juridical and financial consultants came at a moment when the number of employees at the Bank increased”, Público explains. “Latest figures published by the Central Bank Directory indicate that in 2014 the institution led by Carlos Costa had 1776 members of staff, and that in 2016, there were 1811”.

This is the backdrop to news due to come later today that the bank created with a €4.9 billion cash injection from the rubble of BES is now to be sold to an American “vulture fund” (better known as a private equity firm that deals in distressed assets) for the financial equivalent of “a song”.

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PHOTO: Carlos Costa, governor of the Bank of Portugal, has come under heavy fire over his performance in recent years, but always maintains that he will see his position through to the end of his mandate in order to best serve the country’s financial system.