July 6, 2020

An ex-president of the Popular denies maneuvers to get Ron out of the bank

The former vice president of the Popular Bank José María Arias denied Tuesday at the National Court that there was some kind of maneuver to replace the president of the entity Angel Ron by Emilio Saracho at the request of one of its main shareholders, the Mexican magnate Antonio del Valle.

In his statement as investigated, which has lasted about five hours, Arias, who held the vice presidency from 2012 to 2017, has rejected the version given by former President Ron before judge José Luis Calama, and has ensured that Mexican investors did not control the Bank nor urged the relay in the dome, have informed legal sources.

The banker has thus denied what was declared in judicial headquarters by Ron, who denounced the lack of transparency that prevailed in his departure from the Popular and pointed out among the promoters of this measure the then president of the Appointments Committee, Reyes Calderón.

The former adviser, who declares on November 19 before the head of the central court of instruction 4, would have acted at the request of Antonio del Valle, who became the main shareholder of the bank and intended to take control, always according to Ron, that He said he received threats from the Mexican.

What Arias has admitted now, who has answered the judge, the prosecutor and the defenders, is that he was in favor of a change in the bank's presidency, although he has clarified that Saracho was not the only name that was being considered for the replacement .

In addition, he reiterated that he did not welcome the capital increase executed in 2016 with which 2,500 million euros were raised, but that he would have preferred a corporate operation with one of the two large Spanish banks, Santander or BBVA, and not so much with La Caixa.

This option, which in 2016, with Ron at the head of the bank, did not arise, is similar to what happened with Banco Pastor, an entity of which Arias was president since 2001 and which in 2011 was absorbed by the Popular.

The investigation dates back to 2017, the year in which Europe, through the Single Resolution Board (JUR), resolves the Popular given its situation of "bankruptcy or near bankruptcy", and agrees to its subsequent sale at the balance price to Banco Santander.

The decision triggered a wave of legal actions by shareholders and holders of subordinated debt, affected by the zeroing of their investments, which brought the operation before the Spanish and community courts, including criminal proceedings.

In October 2017, the judge of the National Court Fernando Andreu admitted several complaints against the last presidents of the entity, Ron and Saracho, and their respective boards of directors, initiating the opening of two separate pieces.

The magistrate's car distinguished a first stage, with Ron in front, a period in which the capital increase of 2016 worth 2,505 million euros would be investigated.

The second would be limited to the 108 days of the presidency of his successor, a period in which, according to the accusations, there would have been a smear campaign to bring down the value of the share price and thus obtain important benefits, which could constitute a crime of market manipulation.

In the session on Tuesday it was planned to declare, also as always investigated in the first separate piece of the case on the capital increase the former secretary of the Board of Directors, Francisco Aparicio.

However, his testimony has been postponed sine die as the appearance of Arias lengthened.

Judge Calama will resume this round of subpoenas – scheduled until next February – on Tuesday 19, a day in which he will declare, in addition to Reyes Calderón, the member of the Ramón Estévez Appointments Committee.

. (tagsToTranslate) former vice president (t) Popular (t) denies (t) maneuvers (t) Ron

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