“Blackmail up until the last moment” is how the deputy director of national tabloid Correio da Manhã describes the extraordinarily contrary position of the ‘new board of directors’ at State Bank Caixa Geral de Depósitos.
Under the terms of a law passed over thirty years ago, António Domingues and his band of directors are bound to submit their tax returns for public scrutiny.
It is a proviso binding companies owned or controlled by the State, as much as it is binding on MPs and local authority officials.The idea being that any ‘unaccountable increases in wealth’ either during or immediately following years of public service will be easy to spot.
But for reasons not well explained, CGD’s board is digging in its heels.
In fact, the bottom line is that if the hot shots at the helm are forced to reveal their earnings, they will resign.
Says Eduardo Dâmaso of CM, this is an “unsustainable position that can never be defended by a decent government”.
Dâmaso was writing as CGD’s board awaits a ruling on the issue by Portugal’s Constitutional Court.
In the meantime, the President of the Republic has said that in his opinion the situation is as clear as crystal: CGD’s directors have to toe the line, just like every other high-level public servant.
Diário de Notícias runs an interview today with secretary of state for parliamentary affairs Pedro Nunes Santos who says exactly the same.
“CGD’s directors have to present their earnings”, no matter how eye-popping they may appear in print.
But Dâmaso’s opinion is that the directors’ stance has left them tainted.
Their interpretation of a point of law is “shameful” when elsewhere the bank applies law “with implacability when it comes to eviction orders, property seizures or ruinous banking commissions”.
António Domingues and his team “do not deserve to stay at CGD for another minute”, says Dâmaso. And if the government “had the courage” they should all be dismissed, he said.
The issue, however, may not be that simple.
Domingues’ leadership of the massively indebted state bank has been given the green light by Brussels and the European Central Bank after a great deal of negotiational to-ing and fro-ing. Portugal feels it has “the right team for the job”, with the necessary experience for CGD’s restructuring, Pedro Nunes Santos told DN.
Thus the controversy throws up yet more mud as CGD’s directors are photographed smiling widely as they pocket millionaire salaries long before any valid changes are effected at the State Bank.