CaixaBank is under investigation regarding BPI takeover

  • ECO News
  • 4 October 2018

One of Spain's highest courts, Audiencia Nacional, is currently investigating the ex-president and the remaining administrators of CaixaBank, over a legal action presented by two Spanish shareholders.

Audiencia Nacional, the court which has jurisdiction over all the Spanish territory as well as over international crimes under its competency, is currently investigating a legal action filed by two of the bank’s shareholders, in regards to the acquisition of the Portuguese bank BPI. The legal claim indicts the ex-president and the remaining administrators of CaixaBank, over allegations of market abuse, unloyal administration, and corporate crimes.

Besides CaixaBank, the legal claim is targetting the ex-leader of the bank, Isidro Fainé — president of the La Caixa Foundation and ex-president of the group –, together with six other people. Namely, the deputy counsellour of CaixaBank, Gozalo Gortázar, the ex-director for international relations, António Massanell, two presidential advisors, Alejandro García Bragado and Oscar Calderón, and the director of internal rules, Juan Álvarez García, according to Spanish news agency EFE.

The accusations implicate the purchase of the bank BPI by CaixaBank in 2017. CaixaBank was a minority shareholder of BPI since 1995, but last year decided to do a PTO to the Portuguese bank, which has been successful in guaranteeing CaixaBank’s control of 84.5% of BPI’s shares, thanks to an investment of €644.5m coming from the bank which is now led by Pablo Forero.

At the centre of the claims, there are concerns that privileged information was leaked, and that some documents related to the annual accounts of the bank were forged, as well as documents that would clarify the investors on the legal and economic situation of the bank.

According to the Judge’s proceedings, disclosed by El Mundo, a Spanish newspaper, the complaints warn that there might have been a series of illegal undertakings during the swap contract between CaixaBank and Criteria Caixa, the holding which controls the Spanish bank, and whose final goal was the acquisition of BPI.

The allegations also involve a credit of €400m received from Banco Fomento de Angola, in order to eliminate any restrictions that might exist in the process of acquisition of the Portuguese bank. In particular, the accusations noted as well that Isabel dos Santos (daughter of the now former, then president, of Angola), who controlled 10% of BPI, should support the Catalan investors.

The judge in charge of the case, José de La Mata, is warning that the process might cost millions of euros in losses for CaixaBank’s shareholders. 

CaixaBank denies allegations of unlawful activities

In the meantime, the Spanish bank has reacted. CaixaBank denies that there have been any wrongdoings in the purchase process, and stated that all the transactions and business arrangements “were made in such a way as to comply with all legal obligations“.

“CaixaBank also confirms that the operations leading to the purchase of BPI, including the asset swap which occurred between BEA and GF Inbursa with Criteria, have also complied with all legal obligations, having CaixaBank informed and requested authorization to all regulators”, an official source from the bank told Lusa, the Portuguese news agency.

The source also insisted that “this makes no sense” and that different things are being “mixed up”.