January 26, 2021

The ECB has already warned Banco Popular of problems in its accounts almost three years before its disappearance

The ECB has already warned Banco Popular of problems in its accounts almost three years before its disappearance



Banco Popular ceased to exist as an independent entity in June 2017. Then, the Sole Resolution Board decided to resolve the entity and sell it for one euro to Banco Santander, who would take charge of the group's situation. However, the problems of Popular go back years, as confirmed by the communications of the European Central Bank.

This is contained in the classified documents of the ECB on the Popular whose secret has been raised by Judge Fernando Andreu, responsible for investigating the entity's top management and the causes that led to its resolution. This medium has had access to an extensive file of documents among which are some of the keys of the Banco Popular process.

In 2014, the ECB took over the supervision of Banco Popular, as well as of the major European banks, on the occasion of the creation of the new common bodies of the EU. Already at the end of that same year, the agency sent a letter to Banco Popular asking the entity to "pay more attention" to the quality of its assets.

In that letter, the agency said that the auditor of the company's accounts had to be informed "without delay". According to the ECB, the value of some assets should be cut by 460 million. This translated into the fact that the solvency ratios that the Popular had estimated were actually lower, as shown in this document.

The letter went further and pointed out that it would be "desirable" for the Popular to "improve" its internal processes to ensure a better qualification of assets and debtors. The organization chaired by Mario Draghi pointed to the need to focus mainly on improving controls over debtors in the real estate sector and in retail banking. Overall, the entity's exposure to doubtful assets (non-performing, in its definition in English) was greater than expected by 893 million euros.

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