The judge of the National High Court, José Luis Calama, has agreed extend the investigation into the bankruptcy of the Banco Popular for “the extraordinarily complex nature of the facts” and for the proceedings that are still pending.
In an order dated January 13, to which Europa Press has had access, the head of the Central Court of Instruction Number 4 has explained that it is “absolutely logical and reasonable” to extend the investigation period that expired last Saturday because the results of the pending proceedings may be necessary to agree on new ones.
In this sense, the investigating magistrate has recalled that they are still waiting for the ratification of two expert reports presented by the experts of the Bank of Spain; one related to the so-called Thesan framework and another related to the correction of the valuations of the assets awarded to Banco Popular and those that were given as collateral for active operations, due to their impact on provisions.
Likewise, Calama has pointed out that The investigation into the possible financing of customers who participated in the capital increase has yet to be completed del Popular in 2016. And he highlighted the battery of statements that are pending on the agenda.
Specifically, the magistrate has referred to the interrogations of inspectors of banking supervisors (Bank of Spain and European Central Bank) scheduled for February 24 and March 3 in order to “clarify relevant aspects related to a probable under-provisioning in the balance sheet” of the entity.
The judge considers that Manuel Caro’s statement is key while he was head of the continuous inspection team that supervised Banco Popular, between November 2013 and November 3, 2014 from the Bank of Spain. Subsequently, once the supervision of the entity became directed by the ECB as of November 4, 2014, Caro held the position of deputy coordinator of the continuous inspection team.
“Therefore, your testimony may help clarify certain issues that are being investigated in this case, such as the existence of a hidden deficit of provisions in the refinanced loan portfolio, the operation of the so-called THESAN framework, as well as an inadequate appraisal policy, especially in developer loans, also having an impact on provisions. Obviously, Mr. Caro will be able to provide us with data on the governance of Banco Popular in terms of credit risk”, justified the magistrate in the order of his summons.
As for the Jesús Fernando Martínez Usano, Calama points out that he would have been the team leader in two missions that were carried out from the ECB, and whose objective was to verify the correct accounting classification and provisioning of a sample of 100 restructured or refinanced borrowers selected with a certain criterion, as well as the correct accounting classification of a portfolio of foreclosed assets in payment of debts.
Both citations take place after, last December, Calama took a statement from two other coordinators of the team that supervised the entity in the European body, Ignacio Pardo and Carlos Giorgis, who verified that the entity had structural problems that came from long before of the process that led to its resolution and which they dated in 2008, after the outbreak of the economic crisis.
Documentation requested from Satander
Added to the pending list is the documentation requested from Banco Santander, which the judge has described as “undoubted value for clarifying the facts.” As he specified, “only after its study is it possible to determine and specify the necessary measures that may derive from it, whether it is a question of expanding the agreed expert opinions, providing new documents that complement it or obtaining the testimony of the people who have intervened in the facts under investigation”.
In addition, the declaration as investigated of the former director of the legal services of Banco Popular, Tomás Pereira, is on the agenda, a procedure that is admitted but pending execution.
In this procedure, the judge investigates two phases of the resolution process of the entity, one that covers the alleged accounting irregularities of Popular in 2016, with the capital increase, and another that concerns the leaks to the press a year later and that would have caused its resolution in mid-2017 and the purchase of the entity by the symbolic amount of one euro for Santander.
The magistrate’s decision coincides with the criteria of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor Antonio Romeral, who requested the extension until July 29, 2022 of the case that was born in 2017.