Público in Novo Banco lawsuit threat

 In Banks, Law, News

Novo Banco has hit back at allegations by the daily newspaper Público that it has sold off its insurance arm in a less than transparent if not profitable operation.

The bank, led by António Ramalho, insists on the honesty and integrity of the businessman who bought GNB – Companhia de Seguros de Vida, S.A.
It states in a statement that the sale was accepted by the insurance regulator and that the sale was undertaken with the expressed agreement of the Resolution Fund.
In a statement sent to TSF Radio, Novo Banco referred to a continued and sustained smear campaign being carried out by the Público newspaper and adds that the bank is having the allegations scrutinised by its lawyers.
In answer to the doubts raised by the newspaper, Novo Banco makes clear that the deal safeguarded the patrimony of the banking institution, countering the reporting presented by Público which allegedly seem to show that the insurer was sold well below the price at which company was valued.
“The final price of the transaction was the best and resulted from an organised sale process that was competitive and transparent, in agreement with the Resolution Fund, in which the buyer obtained accreditation of honesty from the ASF (Insurance Supervisory Authority),” states Novo Banco.
Novo Banco also pointed out that the sale of the insurance company was set out in the agreement between Portugal and the European Union.
“Novo Banco achieved the sale of the entire capital share of GNB – Companhia de Seguros de Vida, S.A. (“GNB Vida”) to GBIG Portugal, S.A., a company wholly owned by funds managed by APAX Partners LLP on 14 October 2019, meeting the commitment of the Portugal Accord/European Commission which insisted on the sale by 2019,” states Novo Banco.
“The value of the sale achieved an initial fixed price of €123 million up to a variable component of up to €125 million indexed to the distribution objectives set out in the contract between Novo Banco and GNB Vida for a period of 20 years”, stated Novo Banco on the sale.
But leader of the opposition PSD party, Rui Rio said that if the insurer was paid at well below market value then it would be the tax payers who would foot the bill.
On Twitter, Rio said, “We need to find out who stands to gain from the controversial sale of the insurer Vida by Novo Banco” reacting to a sale which allegedly resulted in losses of €268 million.
And the investigative journalist Cristina Ferreira from newspaper Público went on SIC TV television on Monday to say publicly that she had been the target of legal threats from Novo Banco. She said she had not been the origin of the denunciation against Novo Banco, but rather it had appeared in a letter sent to ESMA (European Securities Market Authority) and added that the indications are very strong that the purchasing fund is linked to Greg Lindberg who is being investigated for bribery in the United States, and faces prison if found guilty, but that Novo Banco claims the sale beneficiary has nothing to do with Lindberg.
And when the journalist asked the insurance authority, the Resolution Fund and Novo Banco who in fact was the ultimate beneficiary of the funds which bought the insurer, they could not respond to either when the funds were sold to Apax Partners or who had been the owner of those funds.
“This is a big mess, full of half truths, either they know who were the end beneficiaries or they don’t. There are things that just don’t add up, and have not been told straight, and then Novo Banco threatened me as though this were not an issue of great public interest,” said the investigative journalist.
Gama Life, which formerly was called GNB Vida which belonged to Novo Banco, claims to have no relation to funds owned or managed by Greg Lindberg.
“GamaLife does not have, as Apex Partners does not have, or the funds controlled by Apex Partners do not have, any relationship (of property or other with Greg Evan Lindburg”, states the communiqué sent to the Portuguese market securities commission CMVM.
Greg Lindberg, a US businessman, had been charged with trying to bribe North Carolina’s insurance commissioner to gain favourable treatment for his business operations. Two of his employees had also been charged, as had the state’s Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes.
A jury in March found Lindberg, North Carolina’s largest political donor, guilty of trying to bribe the State’s insurance commissioner with up to US$2 million to ease regulations on Lindberg’s insurance company.
A US federal judge upheld the convictions of two men found to be trying to bribe North Carolina’s top insurance regulator with large political contributions so that scrutiny of a defendant’s (Greg Lindberg) businesses would be eased.
Evidence showed Lindberg offered to funnel money for Mike Causey’s 2020 reelection campaign in exchange for the removal of an official regulating his insurance companies. The recording transcripts show Lindberg supporting the establishment of two independent expenditure committees funded with US$1.5 million to support State Insurance Commissioner Causey’s campaign, according to US District Judge Max Cogburn’s ruling. Lindberg is appealing.