The Belgian journalist Marc Roche seriously undermined the governor of the Bank of Portugal, Carlos Costa, during a Monday radio interview on the Portuguese station TSF, calling him “unethical” and “arrogant.” A former Le Monde correspondent in London, and author of several essays dealing with the financial world and the current crisis, Marc Roche was being interviewed about the Portuguese version of his book “Banksters, the world of my capitalist friends”, in which he devotes an entire chapter to the BES-gate (Banco Espirito Santo scandal).
The last minute rescue of Banco Espirito Santo last summer disheartened the markets. It took a loan of 3.9 billion euros from the Lisbon government to save the bank’s remaining good assets after improprieties were revealed.
According to Marc Roche, Carlos Costa should have resigned following the scandal.
“When your job description includes supervising banks, and this has not been done correctly, when you know exactly what’s going on in one of the main Portuguese banks but you don’t ask management any difficult questions, maybe because some of your friends, old school friends or even relatives are on the board, maybe because of conflict of interest: what should you do? What should you do when you’ve made a huge mistake in your job? You should either resign or be made to stand down. In this case, the governor stayed in his position as if nothing had happened. That is unethical,” claimed Marc Roche.
“Carlos Costa must accept his responsibility because he did not keep the banking world under sufficient control.” By refusing to resign, he showed his arrogance, a characteristic that can be seen in many a top-knob at the centre of the financial crisis.”
Marc Roche thinks the BES scandal is “worse than the Lehman Brothers, Bank of Scotland or Landesbanken scandals because it involves a very large bank in a small country.”
The journalist also claims that the BES issue “is typical of ‘banksters’ (Editor’s Note: bankers + gangsters), as it fosters a sense of impunity, and the use of tax havens, of hidden operations, and of political connections. It also stems from a weak regulator and a weak central bank.”
However he added that his criticism is aimed at how investment banks and speculation are regulated, not at the current mangers of the Portuguese economy.