Santander chairman says CEO should be able to continue in role

SANTANDER, Spain March 22 Fri Mar 22, 2013 7:10am EDT

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SANTANDER, Spain March 22 (Reuters) - Santander's chairman said he saw no reason why chief executive Alfredo Saenz should have to give up his duties after the Bank of Spain began proceedings to decide if he would be barred from banking.

The Bank of Spain kicked off the process earlier this month after partially annulling a 2011 pardon for a conviction held by the CEO of the euro zone's biggest bank, dating back to his time as head of lender Banesto.

"I want to let you know that we have definitive reports that there will be no legal obstacle to our CEO continuing to perform his duties," Chairman Emilio Botin said at the bank's annual shareholders' meeting in the northern city of Santander.

"He has done wonderful work all these years he has been with us and the board has expressed total confidence in him," Botin told shareholders, who applauded while he spoke.

Saenz was convicted in 2009 for false accusations against debtors when he headed Santander-owned bank Banesto in 1994. He was handed a brief jail sentence and barred from banking for three months. (Reporting by Jesus Aguado; Writing by Clare Kane; Editing by Julien Toyer and Helen Massy-Beresford)

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