Tue. Apr 23rd, 2019

The doubts about the appraisals of the Popular put Ron in the spotlight

The doubts about the appraisals of the Popular put Ron in the spotlight

The doubts about the appraisals, manifested by the experts assigned to the cause that investigates possible irregularities in the management of Banco Popular, place former President Ángel Ron in the crosshairs of the accusations, which maintain that there could be falsehood in the accounts of the entity.

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In his report, submitted this week to the National High Court, experts from the Bank of Spain Santiago Ruiz-Clavijo and Pablo Hernández differ from the appraisal system of real estate assets followed by the Popular until the end of 2016, which led to cases of " overvaluation "by" the weakness of internal control ".

They point out that the entity used appraisals made by companies not registered with the regulator, which did not follow the criteria of the Ministry of Economy on property valuation standards.

By virtue of these criteria, known as ECO, the appraiser must issue a broad report in which it is possible to verify the hypotheses on which the value rests, and which can not incorporate urbanistic expectations or price increases.

Although the methodology chosen by the Popular complies with international regulations, the expert opinion warns that it contravened the "own accounting policy established by the Board", which rejected the use of companies that did not appear in the registry.

Ruiz-Clavijo and Hernández also maintain that "it seems" that the quality of the appraisals used to estimate the provisions "worsened during 2016".

Thus, "according to the inventories of foreclosed assets provided by the bank, in December 2015 11% of the land was reviewed by non-approved companies and in 2016 the percentage was raised to 34%".

The experts refer to the report of EY, made at the request of Bankia within the process of selling the Popular, in which it is observed that "only in 4 cases of a total of 50 were valid appraisals".

"Defects" that, although they may be conditioned by being a different system, are "illustrative of the quality of the valuations requested" by the bank, among others, to Aliseda, the real estate company of the group.

This was detected by the European Central Bank (ECB), whose inspection found that, "in a limited number of cases, there were two appraisals of the same good with substantial differences" in which it was decided to apply "the highest value".

Both experts consider it "remarkable" that the new assessments carried out with Emilio Saracho at the head of the Popular meant a "reduction of its value of 1,944 million euros, especially in the soils, where it was reduced by 1,528 million," which generated the need for more provisions.

However, they clarify that they do not object to methodologies other than those provided by the Bank of Spain, because "it probably facilitates the sale of assets to international investors", but that they are used for the calculation of provisions "if at the same time it is maintained that it is complied with. the accounting framework "of the regulator.

Therefore, they conclude that "the biggest problem was that, given the weaknesses in internal control, especially the overvaluation of the appraisals, it was difficult to quantify the needs for provisions and establish the bases for capital planning."

Although in the more than 400 pages there are also passages that minimize the possible responsibility of Ron and Saracho, and their respective Boards of Directors, in deviations "not controllable by the managers", accusations such as the one exercised by Adicae understand that the Expertise accredits the irregularities.

There are also comparisons with the other major scandal of Spanish banks, the IPO of Bankia, as indicated by the law firm Lean Abogados.

The origin of the case dates back to October 2017, four months after the resolution and subsequent sale of the Popular to Santander, when the then head of the court, Fernando Andreu, admitted to process several complaints against the former administrators, the PwC firm and your audit partner.

Among other alleged crimes, the writings included unfair administration, misappropriation, as well as accounting falsification and swindling of the investors who attended the 2016 capital increase, as denounced by lawyer Felipe Izquierdo.

The magistrate thus agreed to open two separate pieces, the first of them for the operation in which 2,500 million euros were subscribed in the entity's capital, and the second for possible manipulation of the market.

Once the report of the experts is known, which can be modified, the door opens for the now examining judge José Luis Calama to declare the defendants.


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