Ricardo Salgado, the former chairman of Banco Espírito Santo (BES), has said in his bid to overturn the August 2016 decision by the Bank of Portugal (BdP) to fine him €4 million that "anything went" in its efforts to find him guilty of the misconduct of which he was accused, and that evidence was igored "that would impose an absolution".
Hearings in the case in which Salgado is seeking to impugn the decision by the banking supervisor opened on Monday at the Competition, Regulation and Supervision Tribunal (TCRS) in Santarém. The appeal lodged by another BES director, Amílcar Pires, against an order to pay €600,000 euros.
Pires was also barred from taking up any post at a bank for three years, while Salgado was in August 2016 barred of doing so for 10 years.
The Bank of Portugal issued the order because Salgado allowed debt issued by Espírito Santo Internacional (ESI) to be marketed to BES customers although he knew that ESI was close to bankruptcy.
Another BES director, José Maria Ricciardi, had also been fined €60,000 but three-quarters of this was suspended for five years. He dropped his own appeal.
In Salgado's bid to overturn the Bank of Portugal decision, the former BES chairman alleges that it did everything it could to find him guilty, starting with the announcement of steps to wind up BES at a news conference just three days after the proceedings against him were started, in what he describes as “a premature and pre-announced conviction in full public view”.
He cites, among other alleged failings, the fact that the questioning of witnesses was not recorded - something the Lisbon appeal court has already criticised. “Anything went”, Salgado states in the formal bid to overturn the decision.
He also cites interviews given by the Bank of Portugal governor, Carlos Costa, detailing elements of the final decision, "when the persons of interest were still opening the envelope of the notification that contained" that decision.
“This shocking lack of impartiality cannot continue to be ignored and must have the necessary legal consequences, namely at the constitutional level," Salgado writes. "Questions of inconstitutionality are also raised by the model that allows the BdP to combine powers as supervisor, resolution entity and punishments.”
Hearings in the case are scheduled for Mondays through Thursdays in the coming weeks, with witnesses currently being heard.
BES was wound up in August 2014 and its ongoing commercial banking activities hived off into a new institution, Novo Banco, which is in the process of being privatised.