The “good bank”

It is urgent to suspend this sale of NB assets at a loss. Unfortunately, the bank continues to warrant a short rein. Worst of all is to note that the country seems forever to be looted.

1. If any citizen decides to lend money to another to keep his own house, receiving at the time of 'sale' of the same money advanced, what would we think of that person? What if, following an almost improbable story, we learned that, moreover, the house had probably even been delivered at a price below market value? If we knew of a friend capable of something similar, perfectly legal, and I believe that we would immediately accompany him to the nearest mental health doctor; if he were just an acquaintance and no one could harm us if we asked if, by mere chance, he would not have another casita to 'sell'. For the New Bank (NB) had. More specifically, in a portfolio called 'Viriato', 5.552 properties and 8.719 fractions! And, in an envelope at the side, he had 364 million to lend for those same houses, which, it is said, would be worth almost twice as much.

2. I want to start by saying that NB made a terrible mistake. Having 13.271 'fires' to spread across the market could have done a marketing action that there is no memory in the world market: calling 13.271 customers, perhaps people in their prime, and giving them their homes. These people would be left with two options: to sell immediately to third parties, returning the money advanced with the house and saving the estimated capital gains - which in itself would be attractive; or choose to pay for the house, delivered at a lower price than it would be worth on the market, in installments - which would not be less appreciable. I insist: NB would become a case study worldwide and would live up to the first name it knew after the BES earthquake, the “good bank”.

3. Unfortunately, NB chose the least socially estimable route: a single customer. And with so much aim he walked that today we do not know the name of, or, the beneficiaries of the happy company. In the lottery game of numbers is a usual case: the player, in order not to be disturbed in case of lucky bliss, makes an 'x' in a square. In the business world, this 'xis' has the equivalent of forming a company somewhere offshore, usually in the Caribbean. This is done without leaving Lisbon or Porto, at least.

4. Having arrived here, we must understand that everything that has happened at NB, with material for auditors and, who knows, researchers, is a consequence of the contract established with the Lone Star fund by the first government of António Costa that sold, sorry, delivered without at any cost, 75% of Novo Banco (the Resolution Fund kept the other 25%). In this 2017 contract, the Government accepted a contingent capital mechanism that provided that for eight years (through the Resolution Fund) any losses in a set of assets of the former BES would be compensated up to a maximum of 3.890 million euros. As we know, accompanied by more or less noise, there are already 2.978 million euros there.

5. And how do you dig losses? Personally, I don't know. But I listen to people capable of establishing relationships between processes such as the 'sale' of these houses and the creation of financial and accounting needs that later end up in the State Budget, via the Resolution Fund. Without much effort, I can even hear anyone who believes that, precisely in such a case, Lone Star himself may be on the other side, winning both at the same time. Horrible and uncomfortable suspicion (which I hope will not be confirmed)! In such a case there would be a clear breach of the terms of the contract. And if that were to happen, no one could guarantee that it had also not been common practice in the recent past.

6. This case of the NB has a high destructive potential in political terms - and for that very reason António Costa coincides with all the opposition and even the President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, in the desire for an investigation by the Public Ministry. The Prime Minister even wrote a letter to that effect to the PGR, Lucília Gago, requesting that precautionary procedures be developed to protect the financial interests of the State. I agree: it is urgent to suspend this sale of NB assets at a loss. Unfortunately, the bank continues to warrant a short rein. Worst of all is to note that the country seems forever to be looted. And in this case, the process helped.


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