Montepio directors in new banking controversy

Already under investigation for qualified fraud, abuse of confidence, money-laundering, fiscal fraud and “eventual corruption”, Montepio ‘boss’ Tomás Correia has a whole new headache to deal with this week: the Bank of Portugal has cited him and eight former Montepio directors for “grave illegalities”.

Now only in charge of Montepio’s owning company, the ‘Associação Mutualista, Correia is putting on a brave front – telling journalists there is no chance of his resignation until concrete charges are levelled against him in a court of law.

Nonetheless, today’s ‘shock’ revealed in Jornal de Negocios has done nothing to help clear the muddied waters swirling round Portugal’s banking system.

The nub of the issue stems from suspicions that Correia and fellow-directors nodded through two catastrophic loans to GES (Grupo Espírito Santo) when they already knew the financial group was in a mess.

The loans coincidentally were to the son of ‘bountiful builder’ José Guilherme, the man now infamous for having given BES boss Ricardo Salgado a €14 million thank-you present, and the ‘other party’ in the first probe facing Correia.

According to Público, €4 million in fines could be imposed if Correia and his fellow directors are proved guilty – a prospect that the former says he is “profoundly certain and secure” will not happen.

He told the paper: “I am tranquil about the conclusion of these and the other accusations aimed against me”, suggesting the news was in the meantime doing nothing for the “good name of Montepio and its managers and staff”.

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