Novo Banco has announced today that it may use legal action to stop “protest initiatives” being taken by the group representing thousands of investors who lost their life savings in the BES banking collapse.
In a move that could be said to be adding insult to injury, Novo Banco has let it be known that it does not take kindly to the weekly protests being staged at its branches by the group, dubbed the “Association of the Indignant” and made up of largely middle-aged people who put their money into so-called “commercial paper” in Group Espírito Santo companies thinking it would be safe.
Keen to sell swiftly to the highest bidder, Novo Banco claims the association is “damaging its reputation” with its regular protests.
“Damaged people have rights that must be respected,” read a statement from the bank. “But they cannot act outside of the law and against those that do not have the autonomy to satisfy them.”
Thus Novo Banco is “reserving the right to adopt adequate legal measures” against protestors, so that business at its branches can continue “without restrictions”.
It is yet another neat way of Novo Banco attempting to negate of any responsibility it may have for investors’ losses.
The Association of the Indignant has always maintained Novo Banco should honour its investments. Bank regulator CMVM agrees. But the Bank of Portugal, overseeing the sale of Novo Banco does not. Neither does Novo Banco’s boss, Eduardo Stock da Cunha.
TVI24 explains that the bank that morphed out of the ashes of BES has “emphasised” that it is “a bank of transition and does not have the autonomy to decide and execute proposals destined to heal or compensate for the failure of referred instruments of debt”.
In other words, more cold comfort for the thousands who have vowed they will fight this issue to their last breaths.
Reacting to this latest threat against them, the Association of the Indignants’ spokesperson Ricardo Ângelo said: “Novo Banco should thank us for the way we have controlled people this far.”
He told RTP that without the demonstrations, people could have been a great deal more aggressive “against the bank managers who tricked them”, adding that the situation is one of total despair. He could not rule out the possibility that members could dream up “less careful” ways of demonstrating in the future, he told Lusa.