“No questions, there are no questions…” is the response Carlos Costa, the Governor of the Bank of Portugal, had for reporters who dived to quiz him over his resolution of Banif Bank which seems set to cost the country well over €3 billion euros.
Costa was appearing for the first time in public since the fall of the bank two weeks ago, and RTP news was keen to ask all the salient questions.
But Costa refused, simply raising his hand to show there was no chance of anyone getting an interview.
He then walked into the debate on Portugal’s financial system – it has to be said, it was a small room – where he gave what RTP termed “a retrospective of some of the factors that led to the crisis”.
It was here that Costa’s interpretation of banks may have been lost on some of the audience.
“Banks distributed their results in large scale during the years 2000-2010”, he said. “There was something of a trimestral beauty pageant to see who would present the best results and who would distribute the largest dividends…”
Then came 2012 when the beauty pageant went right off the rails and “four banks were capitalised with public money”, he explained, holding up two fingers.
Three of those banks were asked to present restructuring programmes and saw these accepted, and the fourth, Banif, did not.
As none of this was news to anyone in the room, reporters once again hurried to get some soundbytes as Costa left the debate. But there were no questions, he repeated as he turned his back on the throng of cameras and microphones pointed in his direction, and shook his head adding: “I don’t make declarations”.
What the Bank of Portugal does seem to have made, however, is an almighty confusion which even today saw new investment corporations vowing they would be challenging recent “resolution” decisions through the courts.
The latest “big gun” to be threatening legal action is Pimco, one of the world’s largest investment management firms, over BdP’s recent “bond dump” from Novo Banco (see separate story)