Novobanco's competent bodies are analysing António Ramalho's role in the relationship with Luís Filipe Vieira. Resolution Fund tells ECO it is waiting for "developments" from the ECB.
António Ramalho is once again at the centre of controversy, after being caught on wiretaps as part of the judicial investigation into Luís Filipe Vieira in Operation Red Card and which may prove damaging to the chairman of Novobanco. Is his seat at risk? The European Central Bank (ECB) says it is on top of the matter and the former Benfica president’s actions are also being analysed by the bank’s competent bodies, according to information gathered by ECO. The Resolution Fund, which controls over 23% of the bank and has had several altercations with Ramalho in the recent past, told ECO that it is also following the case, but is not involved. It reminds us it is up to the European supervisor to evaluate the suitability of bankers and is, therefore “awaiting developments that may occur”. The Finance Ministry declined to comment.
Last week Sábado and CNN revealed several wiretaps that may leave Novobanco’s CEO in check and whose contents have also reached Frankfurt. According to Público newspaper, the ECB is “following” the “most recent data” and is “currently investigating the matter”.
In one of them, António Ramalho told the then administrator Vítor Fernandes that he was scheduling a meeting with Luís Filipe Vieira, owner of Promovalor, a group that came to owe more than €400 million to the bank, to “prepare” him for the hearing at the parliamentary commission of enquiry that the former president of Benfica would have days later.
For tax inspector Paulo Silva, who is following the investigation, the meeting highlighted the “concern, on both sides” to agree on positions between “people who […] had interventions that show monetary damage to Novobanco that, in view of the contingent capital mechanism, were transferred to the Resolution Fund”.
About the meeting held on May 3 last year, António Ramalho has already explained that it was “a quick conversation” where two things were discussed, namely the bank’s availability to “give all the information that was necessary” to answer the deputies “and simultaneously to make suggestions”.