Bank of Portugal governor faces ethics review

 In Bankers, News

Portugal’s central bank boss Mário Centeno is facing an ethics review after apparently being mooted to lead Portugal’s interim government until the March elections next year following the resignation of prime minister, António Costa last Tuesday.

According to the Financial Times, the Portuguese President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has rejected any possibility of he former Eurogroup president taking the top post, despite being considered by several key business leaders as the best man for the job.

The FT reports that Costa, who resigned hours after a number of arrests and police raids in a probe over alleged corruption among public officials, had urged the former Portuguese Finances minister to replace him as PM rather than call snap elections.

A central bank official confirmed that its ethics commission, made up of three independent people outside the bank, would meet on Monday to review recent events and weigh up possible political conflicts of interest.

The invite by the outgoing prime minister has called into question just how independent the Bank of Portugal is from government and party politics.

The PSD opposition leader, Luís Montenegro had accused Mário Centeno of being an “actor of the Socialist party” while António Leitão Amaro, the party’s vice-president, told newspaper Público that Centeno had “lost the legitimacy and the objectivity to be the Bank of Portugal governor”.

Costa had put forward Centeno to head the central bank in 2020 after previously being the Finances minister for two term in the ‘geringonça’ or minority governments led by Costa who win a landslide election victory in 2022.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Centeno said: “I had an invitation from the president and the prime minister to reflect on and consider the possibility of leading the government and I was very far from reaching a decision” he said.

Meanwhile, Jornal Económico reported on Monday that Centeno had corrected statements and said “It is unequivocal that the president did not invite me to lead the government.”

On the prime minister’s alleged invitation, Mário Centeno said: “There was never an acceptance of the post, but rather an agreement to continue to reflect and finalise it waiting on a decision that he president of the Republic would take”.

Photo: American Club of Lisbon