Santander Chief Is Said to Be Banned From Banking
BY CHRIS V. NICHOLSON
Wednesday, January 19, 2011 Last Update: 9:30AM
Alfredo Sáenz, chief executive of Santander, has been fined, sentenced to a suspended eight-month prison term and banned from banking by the Spanish supreme court, the daily newspaper El Mundo reported on Monday.
A spokeswoman for the court said no sentence had been released regarding the matter, and she refused to confirm or deny the report. Santander would say only that it had no knowledge of the sentence.
Without citing sources, El Mundo said Mr. Sáenz, the most important executive at Santander after its chairman, Emilio Botín, had been sentenced for fraud and making false claims while he was president of Banesto in the 1990s.
The case was initiated in 1994, alleging that Mr. Sáenz had sued four businessmen in an attempt to recover 3.8 million euros’ worth of loans made by Banesto, despite knowledge that they were innocent.
Three of those men — Pedro Olabarria, and Luis and Ignacio Romero — minority shareholders in a company that owed Banesto money, went to jail because of the suit. They were later exonerated, and the judge who imprisoned them, Pascual Estevill, was banned from the judiciary.
El País, another Spanish daily, reported that Mr. Sáenz planned to appeal the ruling to the country’s constitutional court, citing unidentified people. The paper added that Mr. Sáenz had no immediate plans to step down, as the ban would require.
Banesto, short for Banco Español de Crédito, was seized by Spain’s central bank in 1993, and Mr. Sáenz was appointed later that year to restore the institution. It was later bought by Santander.
Mr. Sáenz was succeeded at Banesto by Ana Patricia Botín, the daughter of Santander’s chairman, who has since gone on to run the bank’s British branch after its former chief, António Horta-Osório, announced that he was leaving to run Lloyds.