Spanish bank chief gets suspended jail term

10th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spain's Supreme Court has slapped Banco Santander's chief executive Alfredo Saenz with a three-month suspended jail sentence, according to a judgement released Thursday.

Saenz was also barred from running a bank for the same period, according to a written court decision that was dated February 24 but only now made available to the public.

Saenz, the number two in Spain's biggest bank after executive chairman Emilio Botin, was punished for making a false accusation in a case dating back to 1994 when he was running Santander affiliate Banesto.

Saenz was found guilty of authorising false accusations of fraud and concealment of assets against four executives despite knowing they were innocent as a way of applying pressure to recover a bank loan.

Although Saenz had already been given a six-month suspended jail sentence over the matter by a Barcelona court in 2009, the victims and public prosecutor appealed for a stiffer penalty.

Banco Santander said Saenz would appeal to Spain's constitutional court and ask for the sentence to be suspended pending a decision, which it expected in two-to-four years.

In a statement to the stock exchange regulator, the bank said it "confirmed its confidence" in Saenz.

Santander shares fell 2.51 percent to 8.071 euros by early afternoon, partly because of a decision by Moody's Investors Service to downgrade Spain's sovereign debt rating.

© 2011 AFP

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