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Portuguese court jails former head of scandal-hit BPN bank

he former head of Portugal’s failed BPN bank was handed a 14-year jail term by a Lisbon court on Wednesday for fraud and money-laundering.

Jose Oliveira e Costa, 81, a former state secretary for fiscal affairs, served as CEO of the Banco Portugues de Negocios from 1998 to 2008. He is currently hospitalised and was not in court to hear his sentence which ends a marathon six-year trial.

“This was the biggest fraud case ever judged by Portuguese justice,” said presiding judge Luis Ribeiro.

The bank’s former number two, Luis Caprichoso, was handed a prison term of eight years and six months for fraud and falsification of documents.

Ten other defendants received lesser punishments, with most handed suspended prison terms.

Founded in 1993, BPN was nationalised by a socialist government at the height of the global financial crisis after a 1.8-billion-euro ($1.1 billion at today’s exchange rate) hole was found in its books.

In 2011 it was re-privatised and sold off to the Angolan BIC bank.

The cost of Portugal’s state intervention in BPN has been estimated to be at least five billion euros.

Sometimes nicknamed the PSD bank, after the country’s Social Democratic Party, the BPN was for many years led by senior party officials, including former president Anibal Cavaco Silva.

Cavaco Silva, who served as Portugal’s head of state from 2006-2016, often came under fire from political opponents over his links to the bank.