LISBON, Aug 14 (Reuters) - The former chief executive of failed Banco Espirito Santo (BES) vowed in his first interview since the Portuguese bank collapsed to fight for the honour of his family.
Business daily Diario Economico said Ricardo Espirito Santo Salgado did not feel responsible for the bank’s failure.
“I will fight for honour and dignity, mine and my family‘s,” Salgado was quoted as saying in a short interview published in Diario Economico on Thursday.
The business daily said Salgado would not answer many questions and will make no further comments until a detailed audit of BES accounts is complete.
The bank Salgado’s family founded more than a century ago had to be rescued earlier this month after posting massive losses, largely due to its exposure to a cascade of companies headed by the Espirito Santo family.
Under the 4.9-billion-euro rescue plan, BES was split into a “good bank,” renamed Novo Banco, and a “bad bank”, which will house BES’s exposure to the troubled Espirito Santo business empire, as well as its Angolan subsidiary.
Salgado, who led the Espirito Santo family’s business, was forced by regulators to quit as chief executive of the bank. He resigned in June but remained in his position until mid July.
In July, a judge named Salgado as a suspect in a long-running money-laundering and tax evasion investigation which is separate to his role at Banco Espirito Santo. He was released on bail of 3 million euros after being detained and questioned and his lawyer said then: “Justice will prevail.”
Asked by Diario Economico how he feels now after being one of the most powerful men in Portugal, Salgado quoted Pope Francis: “Don’t cry for your suffering, fight for your happiness.”
“Don’t cry for what you have lost, fight for what you have,” he added.
The Espirito Santo family’s three main Luxembourg-registered holding companies, including the one that held the family’s stake in BES, have all filed for creditor protection. (Reporting By Axel Bugge; editing by David Clarke)