By Julien Toyer
MADRID Feb 12 The chief executive of Santander
, the euro zone's biggest bank, had his pardon of a
criminal conviction partially annulled by a Spanish court on
Tuesday, raising the possibility of sanctions by banking
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Alfredo Saenz, 70,
would now have to bear the consequences of his conviction in
2009 for false accusations against debtors, effectively
reinstating his criminal record. The ruling left intact the 2011
pardon of a three-month jail sentence.
The impact on Saenz was not immediately clear. Santander,
the euro zone's biggest bank by market value, declined to
Spain's existing rules on "banking honourability", which
define the criteria by which bank board members are deemed to be
fit and proper, would in most cases bar a person with a criminal
record from banking.
The rules, dating back to 1995, are set to change, and Spain
is in the process of adopting new ones that would give the Bank
of Spain the final say when deciding whether someone can be a
banker or not.
A spokesman from the central bank declined to comment.
The long-running saga has not had a major impact on
Santander's share price, but it has been watched keenly in
Spain, where banks and politics are closely linked.
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
He appealed and former Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis
Rodriguez Zapatero pardoned him in 2011.
Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos declined to comment
on the Supreme Court decision on Tuesday but said he respected
The court partially overturned the pardon after a small
political party called ICV-EUiA, a socialist-leaning, green
group, appealed, in order to demand that Saenz step down from
his position at the bank.
Shares in Santander were up 1.7 percent on Tuesday