The judge of the National Court José Luis Calama has cited five former directors as investigated for next January of Banco Popular by alleged investor scam or accounting falsehood through the alleged financing of clients to buy shares of the 2016 capital increase.
In the car, known this Friday, the head of the central court Instruction number 4 considers that this behavior could be orchestrated by the bank’s former CEO, Francisco Gómez, already investigated, the former head of retail banking Antonio Pujol and the business director Of customers, Jose Ramon Alonso, which he calls for the next 12 from January.
As the magistrate explains, this alleged practice would have hidden “the true destination of the financing in order to avoid deducting it from the regulatory capital“. The car refers to the meetings that these senior managers held on May 24 and 25, 2016, the days prior to the expansion, with the territorial and regional directors of the bank.
In them, he continues, the commercial performance that was to be developed for clients to invest in the capital increase with financing from the entity itself, “through credit policies or loans, “probably,” with a subsidized interest rate. ”
In this sense, the judge considers that central departments of the bank such as intervention, risk and audit, “could know and consent to said illegal action “, reason why it also expands the case regarding the former risk director José María Sagardoy, and the former directors of internal audit Jesús Arellano and Yolanda García. Precisely García appeared yesterday as a witness before the National High Court in a brief 20-minute interrogation that was interrupted by the judge when he found that he had been untrue.
The former director of internal audit explained that her department only reviewed the marketing process in order to verify that complied with regulations, and was properly classified and reported to the clients. However, he stressed that the entity’s accounting policy manual It did not prohibit this financing as long as it was discounted from the capital.
The controversy was sparked when he stated that at the end of 2016, the until then he was his boss, Jesus Arellano, told him that they were doing searches for possible financing of shares, and asked, without success, return from vacation. Such a statement aroused the anger of the magistrate, which made the ex-director who did not suspend her vacation despite being an issue at I should have prioritized.
The true destination of the funding was not reflected
According to the order, the Popular accounting records showed operations with a code that did not reflect the true destiny of the foundership, the investment in the capital increase, which would imply a serious alteration of the bank’s accounting.
Thus, Judge Calama highlights, “se took the precaution of not putting by written instructions given to the commercial network (…) allegedly in order to make it more difficult to report such proceeding, as well as the audit performance of the external auditor, PwC, and the banking supervisor, the European Central Bank (ECB) “. For all this, highlights the possible participation of the five in the acts, beyond what other people may have investigated, like the ex-president of the Popular Ángel Ron or Francisco Gómez.
And it is that, with the exception of García, all appear expressly mentioned in a report prepared in October 2017 – months after the resolution del Popular and its purchase by Santander- by two vice secretaries of the Board of Directors, in which their participation was attributed
in the investigated operation.
The magistrate focuses on the figure of the former audit director internal, since, although it is not mentioned in said document, it is “highly unlikely that he was unaware of such an irregular practice as frequent, since it covered the entire commercial network of Banco Popular “.
Likewise, agrees to extend the investigation on García, Arellano and Sagardoy to other areas related to your knowledge about alleged overvaluation of real estate appraisals and its impact on the provision of the bank’s loan portfolio.
The case ordered by the National Court began in October 2017 with the admission for processing of several complaints against the last two Popular management teams, led by Ángel Ron and Emilio Saracho, for alleged corporate crimes.
The magistrate then opened two separate pieces, the first one investigates Ron’s team for the capital increase for the amount of 2,500 million euros that the entity undertook in 2016, and a second on Saracho’s 108-day tenure, which focuses on a possible crime of manipulating the market with fake news to bring down the value of the listing.