Ex-BPP bank chief cleared on appeal

 In Banks, Justice, News

A Portuguese banker who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for tax fraud, abuse of trust and money laundering has had part of a court’s judgement overturned on appeal.

The Lisbon Court of Appeal (Tribunal da Relação de Lisboa) absolved the ex-leader of the failed bank, João Rendeiro, of ‘money laundering’ and also absolved co-defendants and bank directors Paulo Guichard and Salvado Fezas Vital.
The defendants have also been cleared of accusations of the crime of qualified fraud for allegedly having defrauded investors that had invested funds in a BPP bank investment vehicle in a case that came to be known as the Private-Financial Case (Privadas-Financeiras).
The decision by the court concerns accusations that hark back to 2015. According to the court of appeal there were not enough legal preconditions (i.e., hard and fast evidence) for the charge of qualified fraud and the intention of self-enrichment and deception on his part and the part of the other directors at the expense of third parties, to stick.
The judge considered that it had been proved in court that the defendants aim was simply to “manage assets” and “recover the capital investment vehicle” but had not counted on or foresaw the “perfect storm” of the world economic crisis which coincided at exactly the same time when BPP bank collapsed.
The appeal court threw out any charge of “general wilful misconduct”, “malicious subterfuge” or an “intentional plan to deceive and mislead” by the defendants with the deliberate purpose of “illicit individual enrichment” but rather the losses were sustained by the global crisis that affected the markets at the time of the Private Financial capital raise through the investment vehicle that banked on BCP bank securities. (Banco Comercial Português)
“BCP (and its securities) had a solid reputation in the market at that time given the facts” said Judge Nuno Salpico, adding that it had been proved “the defendants had sincerely believed, unlike the clients who said they had been cheated, that BCP securities would eventually recover.”
Had the crisis not happened there was no reason not to suppose that the clients who had invested in the BCP bank’s paper could have gone on to make triple the amount invested because of the financial leverage effect from acquiring the BCP shares.
However, part of all of the sentence handed down to João Rendeiro could stand after he was given a 10-year jail sentence for other crimes that included tax fraud and abuse of trust which is also going to appeal.