Investigations into former CGD managers without results four years ago – Economy

In response to Lusa, asked about the stage of investigations into former public bank managers, the Attorney General’s Office replied that “the investigation is under investigation”.

An official source at CGD told Lusa that “Caixa awaits the decisions of the Court”, as it has decided to only proceed with civil liability proceedings in cases where criminal matters are investigated by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Last week, the executive chairman of CGD, who was being heard in parliament on the closure of branches, was questioned by BE deputy Mariana Mortágua on the subject, but Paulo Macedo did not respond.

Also questioned by Lusa, both the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Portugal have not provided any clarification so far.

At the beginning of 2019, a controversy erupted around CGD due to an audit commissioned by the Government of EY which revealed — for the period between 2000 and 2015 — ill-founded granting of loans, attribution of bonuses to managers even with results negative effects, State interference and approval of loans with an unfavorable or conditional opinion from the risk department of the public bank.

The audit evaluated seven credit operations with serious or high risk and, in these alone, estimated losses of more than 1,000 million euros, with the financing operations for the La Seda factory in Sines at the head. Also among the operations with high losses are loans to Investifino (from Manuel Fino), for the purchase of shares in Cimpor using shares in BCP and Cimpor, Fundação Berardo, Auto-Estradas Douro Litoral and Vale do Lobo Resort as collateral.

The ruinous credits that harmed the public bank then became a ‘hot’ topic and, in the face of public outcry, the Government and CGD soon said that the bank was analyzing the past (and not just the management acts referred to in the audit ) to eventually bring civil liability claims against former managers, this at the same time as an investigation was underway in court (since the audit findings were sent to the Public Prosecutor’s Office).

The then Minister of Finance, Mário Centeno (current governor of Banco de Portugal), said in parliament, on 30 January 2019, that he had given “all instructions” to CGD’s Board of Directors to “take all the consequences to the last necessary actions” to hold accountable those who harmed the public bank.

A few days later, on February 1, CGD’s non-executive chairman (‘chairman’), Rui Vilar, stated that the bank was “fulfilling all obligations determined by the shareholder and Banco de Portugal” and resorting to lawyers to analyze the “cases in which it will be possible to act to investigate civil liability”.

Also on February 11, 2019, the then Assistant Secretary of State and Finance, Ricardo Mourinho Félix (currently at the European Investment Bank), said that the Government demanded that CGD determine the responsibilities of “all those involved” and apply of consequences “without looking at who”.

In these investigations, CGD hired three law firms (Vieira de Almeida, Linklaters and Serra Lopes), which it justified with conflicts of interest.

However, the statements made by CGD’s executive chairman, Paulo Macedo, were already stirring water: on February 7, 2019, Macedo said that whatever CGD does will be “duly considered” and that he does not accept “judgments in the square public”.

“Caixa will be compensated for whatever it can be, Caixa is not a court, it will not do the work of the Public Ministry, Banco de Portugal or other authorities”, he said.

Macedo stressed that CGD should not be required to be as quick as other authorities are not: “Don’t wait for Caixa to [o] go do it in a few months and lightly”.

Again on May 2, 2019, Macedo again said that the processes will take time and that the bank “is neither a judge nor a court” and that it will not behave in this way towards former managers.

In July 2020, a year and a half later, Macedo said that the dossier was complex — he listed that it involved legal analysis of the cases, financial analysis, analysis of information on criminal proceedings and administrative offenses and adversary proceedings — and that it would take time before he could present proposals for accountability to the shareholder (to the Government, on behalf of the State).

Caixa “is not a criminal justice agency, it is not a judge. It will do its job, but not because of a piece of news in the newspaper,” Macedo said at the time.

In November 2021, the president of CGD announced that, after an opinion by the advisory council of the PGR and approval by the Ministry of Finance, the bank will only proceed with civil liability proceedings against former managers in cases where the Justice concludes that crimes have been committed.

According to the opinion of the Consultative Council of the Attorney General’s Office, the civil liability of CGD managers expires after five years, except for unlawful acts that constitute a crime.

Since then, the topic has been forgotten and CGD’s decision to only act in cases where the Justice decides to act postponed the matter ‘sine die’.

The EY audit covered the period between 2000 and 2015, in which CGD was led by António Sousa (2000-2004), Carlos Santos Ferreira (2005-2008), Faria de Oliveira (2008-2010) and José Matos ( 2011-2016).

After delivering the document, in 2019, Paulo Macedo admitted the existence of “bad practices” and “errors”, but underlined that CGD now has better governance and risk management than in the past and was indignant at “finding It is assumed that anyone who has passed through Caixa is automatically guilty and has a record”.

Of the CGD directors who were in the administrations in question, Maria João Carioca returned to CGD, who is now a director and was also between 2013 and 2016 (she was then in charge of the technological area).

According to the social network Linkedin, former executive director Rodolfo Lavrador (he held the position between 2008 and 2013) also works at CGD, no longer as an administrator.

IM (ANE/JE) // CSJ/JNM

Lusa/End

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