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Santander CEO banned from banking by Spanish court

Alfredo Sáenz is sentenced to eight months in jail, and banned from banking for life. His response? ‘I’m going nowhere.’

Spain's Supreme Court has refused to comment on reports that Santander CEO Alfredo Sáenz has been banned from banking for life.
Spain's Supreme Court has refused to comment on reports that Santander CEO Alfredo Sáenz has been banned from banking for life.
Image: Thierry Charlier/AP

THE CEO of the biggest bank in the Eurozone has been sentenced to eight months in jail – and has been banned from banking for life – by the Spanish Supreme Court, according to newspaper reports.

Alfredo Sáenz, chief executive of Santander, is said by El Mundo to have incurred the sentence by making false legal claims when he was president of a smaller bank, Banesto, in the 1990s.

The New York Times’ Dealbook blog explains that the case, dating from 1994, alleged that Sáenz – while at Banesto – sued four businessmen over €3.8m in loans which had not been repaid, despite knowing that the men were innocent of any wrongdoing.

Three of the men were jailed over the affair, until a later judge quashed their sentences. The judge who imprisoned them was removed from service over the affair.

A court spokesperson refused to confirm or deny the report; another Spanish paper, El Pais, said Sáenz was planning on appealing the ruling to the country’s Constitutional Court.

Sáenz said he had “no immediate plans to step down” over the affair. Banesto was bought by Santander in 2004; Sáenz was promoted within the bank in 2001.

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He had been appointed to the bank by the Spanish central bank in 1993, after it itself had bought the bank as it fell in danger of collapse.

As CEO, Sáenz oversaw the purchase of Zachodni WBK, a Polish bank, from AIB last year in a deal worth €3.1bn.

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Gavan Reilly

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