Novo Banco boss received threats

 In Banks, News

The CEO of Novo Banco says that he and other management figures at the bank have suffered threats from those to whom it has lent money, for simply doing its job trying to claw back outstanding debts.

António Ramalho told Antena 1/Negócios that the bank has 90,000 legal actions against debtors which are managed with “firmness” and admitted it “isn’t an easy task” trying to get bad loans back, adding that those who have experience in clawing back credit from debtors “know just how difficult this is”.
“You cannot begin to imagine the calls, the threats, the use of means that are less than legal against the managers who deal with these cases,” he said in the interview.
On the radio programme called ‘Capital Conversations’ the CEO of Novo Banco said that regarding outstanding debts, the bank had managed to recover some patrimony.
“If the Portuguese Parliament is having difficulties in notifying people, do you think I find it easy tracking down property (from debtors in lieu of payment for outstanding loans)? Do think I would undermine the Resolution Fund and the Portuguese (tax payers) became of it?”, asked António Ramalho.
Portugal’s most headline generating banker was alluding to a message from the chairman of the commission of the parliamentary inquiry currently investigating mismanagement at Novo Banco, Fernando Negrão, who in the last hearing revealed that he had not been able to contact two of the bank’s largest debtors: Nuno Vasconcelos of Ongoing and the owner of Prébuild, João Gama Leão.
“I am trying my utmost to recover the money owed,” said the CEO of Novo Banco. “In many cases the bank can recover (some or all of the) owed money,” said António Ramalho without going into details as to wether he was referring to the impounded goods obtained in lieu of loans from the Sogema group, owned by the Moniz de Maia family whose wealth was evaluated at €400 million in 2020. Its largest firm Totalpart – Gestão e Serviços, was declared bankrupt in 2020.
The result was the its creditor Novo Banco applied to the courts for an assets seizure order over two loans that were in default to its predecessor BES (Banco Espírito Santo). One was for €16.5 million owed by Totalpart, and the other for €358 million owed by Sogema Investments Ltd, a company part of the Moniz da Maia empire and based in Ireland, for which Totalpart stood guarantor.
According to Correio da Manhã, Novo Banco seized a yacht and private plane from Bernardo Moniz da Maia worth €37 million in 2016 in lieu of monies owed by Sogema.
The Sogema debt has since been bought as part of a Non-Performing Loan (NPL) portfolio called Nata II which was sold by Novo Banco and purchased by the Davidson Kempner fund.
Bernardo Moniz da Maia is one of the Novo Banco’s big debtors that the parliamentary commission into Novo Banco will quiz on Friday.
António Ramalho said that he had not taken part (directly) in the sale of the NPLs (debts and property) but stressed that nevertheless the bank always did its very best to recover defaulted loans following all the recommendations from the Resolution Fund.
He also rejects that the bank had been harmed and said that transactions are made with the authorisation of the Resolution Fund.
The Novo Banco CEO also said last week that he believed that the bank will be considered a “success story” within a few years and that this year it will report positive results.
He said that Novo Banco had been the target of idle criticisms “not based on the reality of the facts”.
“I can say with full confidence that we will be considered a success story even if it will take a couple more years or so to be recognised as such,” he said.