April 22, 2021

Amílcar Morais Pires: "There are no longer genuinely Portuguese banks. It will be expensive "| Economy

Amílcar Morais Pires: "There are no longer genuinely Portuguese banks. It will be expensive "| Economy

Question. In 15 days the BES went from the praise of the president of the country to the intervention of the Bank of Portugal. What happened?

Answer.The bank had had two problems for those who had found solutions. In 2013, a hidden debt of the family group was detected. The BES had sold to its customers, through the network of offices, that holding's debt of 1,200 million. A problem similar to that experienced in Spain with the preferred ones. The Espírito Santo family gave as guarantee its insurance company Tranquilidade (valued at 700 million), with which the problem was in the process of being solved. The second problem was the lack of liquidity of the subsidiary in Angola (BESA), where the BES had 55%. I got a sovereign guarantee from the State of Angola worth 5,700 million, which covered 70% of the loan portfolio.

Q. Then, why the BES intervention in August 2014?

R.It was an incomprehensible decision and unjustified Banco de Portugal. It was bad for shareholders, customers, employees and for the State, which put 4,000 million and four years later has lost them.

Q. You had just successfully closed a capital increase of 1,000 million and was proposed to succeed Salgado, but he did not take office. What happened?

R.The council approves that the Espírito Santo family withdraws from the management and appoints me as the chief executive to ensure the stability of the bank. Hours later, the governor of the Banco de Portugal, Carlos Costa, block my appointment.

Q. How did the Exchange react?

R.In four days the shares fell by 15.7%, the spreads of the bank's debt rose 45 points and customers withdrew millions of deposits, especially in Spain. The governor caused the perfect storm, with his intervention for two months destroyed the 6,300 million worth the BES.

Q. There were no alternative solutions to the intervention?

R.There were three in 20 days; the simplest one, which will be taken over by the second shareholder, the French bank Crédit Agricole (20%). A quick, reliable and free solution for the Portuguese. The second was a firm offer of the Blackstone fund of 2 billion euros of capital increase. The Bank of Portugal did not accept it. The third occasion is when the Government of Angola proposes a capital increase of the BESA and the Bank of Portugal decides not to go, with which the majority and the sovereign guarantee of 5.700 million dollars were lost. In these last two decisions, the governor had already placed at the head of the bank Vítor Bento, an economist without any experience in banking management [dimitió dos meses después].

Q. The governor justified the intervention because the BES had lost 3,500 million.

R. In those 20 days, from my departure (July 13) to the intervention (August 3), there was a connivance of the governor with the auditor, who had issued a very favorable judgment to the debt of the family holding company, for the material distortion of the accounts, with artificial accounting, unnecessary increase of provisions … All in order to lower the capital ratio of 8.25% that had to 5.1%, below the minimum acceptable 7% in the stress tests.

P. With the disappearance of the BES, Portuguese private banking has practically disappeared.

R.It could have taken advantage of that moment to merge the BES and the BCP, creating a relevant bank. It was a big strategic mistake. In the next crisis, the finance minister will not have the necessary partners in the national banking system to, for example, design a contingency plan for public companies. In Portugal there were no genuinely Portuguese banks. Apart from the public, Caixa Geral, the first one, Santander, is Spanish; the second, BCP, Chinese-Angolan; the third, BPI, Spanish; Bankinter, also Spanish. All of them no longer have the center of their interests in Portugal or Portuguese-speaking countries. That will pay dearly.

Q. The Bank of Portugal accuses you and condemns you and Salgado of all evils.

R. The governor has that prerogative to accuse and condemn; in the judicial way they are falling their accusations. He accuses me of not having set up risk plans. First, there were, and second, the directors of risk control were others, one of them José Maria Ricciardi (Espírito Santo), to whom, curiously, the governor has given him the suitability to run banks. In the business universe of the Espirito Santo family there were two realities, the BES, where the family and Crédit Agricole had 46%, and then the BES of Switzerland, Dubai and Panama, where the family had 100%. I was never an executive of those banks.

Q. You have filed a popular action against the Bank of Portugal.

R. Yes, to compensate the State for the 4,330 million lost due to their wrong decisions. Governor Carlos Costa squandered the savings of many families, of many shareholders. I was a shareholder. During my 28 years in the bank I invested more than half a million euros in shares. In my bank, I deposited the compensation for the dismissal. The Bank of Portugal stayed with her. If I had committed any irregularity, would I have left the money there 20 days before the intervention?


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