Botin fraud trial delayed by new evidence

26th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

27 January 2005, MADRID-The high-profile trial of Emilio Botin, head of the largest Spanish bank Banco Santander Central Hispano, was adjourned until Monday after new evidence was presented to the court.

27 January 2005

MADRID-The high-profile trial of Emilio Botin, head of the largest Spanish bank Banco Santander Central Hispano, was adjourned until Monday after new evidence was presented to the court.

Botin, 70 and a leading figure in European banking, masterminded last year's acquisition by SCH of Britain's Abbey National for a total of EUR 13.19 billion (USD 17.12 billion dollars) to turn Spain's main bank into the world's tenth-largest.

He faces charges in connection with alleged pension provision irreularities.

Dressed in a sobre suit and wearing his trademark red Banco Santander suit, Botin greeted the waiting media before the trial began and appeared perfectly calm.

The opening hearing lasted for little over an hour after the defence appeared armed with a raft of new documents ahead of the next session scheduled for Monday.

But Botin appeared in the high court to answer allegations brought by SCH shareholders Francisco Franco Otegui and Rafael Perez Escolar, who alleged he illegally siphoned off funds by awarding pensions worth  EUR 164m (USD 200
m) to former directors Jose Maria Amusategui and Jose Angel
Corcostegui.

Escolar is a former vice-chairman of Banesto bank who received a nine-year jail term in 1993 following the collapse of that institution in a fraud scandal.

Under Botin, SCH bought out Banesto a year later.

"I have full faith in justice," Botin said as he arrived for the hearing.

According to Teresa Palacios, the investigating judge who prepared the dossier, the payment of EUR 56m in 2001 to Amusategui, a former co-chairman of SCH, and EUR 108m a year later to Corcostegui, Amusategui's former right hand man, ran counter to shareholders' interests.

If found guilty, Botin faces between six and 12 years in jail, and his two former colleagues, who are being tried with him, face between four and eight years.

The public prosecutor has demanded that the three be acquitted but Palacios rejected attempts to have the case closed before the trial.

SCH directors have insisted all along that the payments were made legally with the approval of the bank's administrative council as well as by a shareholders' general assembly.

The case is scheduled to continue for a month.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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