Asked by Lusa, on the sidelines of a lunch debate on Culture and Economy in Lisbon, Graça Fonseca declined to comment on the presence of executive agents today at the Berardo Collection Museum, located at the Belém Cultural Center.
“For a court decision to be truly effective, there are a number of initiatives that the court has to do. […] At this stage any extra words can ruin everything, ”said the minister.
The works of art that have been part of the Berardo Collection Museum's collection since 2006 are the property of the Berardo Collection Association and, according to a source linked to the lawsuit, only these are covered by the seizure decreed following a precautionary action filed by Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD). , by BCP and Novo Banco, creditors of businessman José Berardo, known as Joe Berardo.
The Jornal Económico said today that the Berardo Collection Museum was “taking steps to seize Berardo's paintings and other works of art, decided by the court as collateral for the debts” of the businessman.
The presence of the enforcement agents today at the site was confirmed to the Lusa agency by sources linked to the process, without specifying whether it is an act of arrest or survey of the works of art.
Contacted by Lusa, José Berardo's advisor reiterated that the businessman "was not notified of any of the arrests, except by the media."
The seizure of part of Quinta Monte Palace Tropical Garden, following an injunction filed by CGD, and two houses in Lisbon, also owned by the businessman, are the other two arrests, reported by the media, to which Berardo's advisory refers to.
On July 5 it was reported that the titles of the Berardo Collection Association, pledged as collateral to creditors of entities linked to José Berardo, were pledged by court order.
According to the Economic Journal of the day, the association considered that 100% of the equity securities were not seized due to the change in the bylaws and the capital increase that occurred after the securities were pledged as creditor banks.
The Público newspaper, on Monday, wrote that the seizure decreed, the banks put in the hands of the state the safeguarding of works of art.
According to Público's news, the solution found to resolve the nearly one billion euros debt to the three banks, and to ensure that the collection remains in state hands, was found by negotiation between the financial institutions and the finance ministries, Culture, Economy and Justice.
At the end of the Council of Ministers on May 16, Minister Graça Fonseca assured that the Government would use “the necessary and appropriate legal measures” to ensure that the so-called Berardo collection of modern art remained whole and accessible to the public.
Graça Fonseca indicated that Culture, Justice and Finance were articulated to defend the “imperative need to guarantee the integrity, non-alienation and public enjoyment” of the works exhibited at the CCB.
Asked then what measures were on the table, Graça Fonseca stated that the Government would not give José Berardo “the satisfaction of anticipating them”, stressing that the possibilities available to the executive are sufficient to guarantee the integrity of the collection.
Graça Fonseca spoke to journalists less than a week after Berardo's hearing in parliament and his statements before the deputies to the parliamentary committee of inquiry into Caixa Geral de Depósitos, which he considered "unseemly and inadmissible."
At the parliamentary hearing on May 10, the businessman said the banks' guarantee is from the Berardo Collection Association's holding titles, and not from the works themselves. At the same hearing, Berardo revealed that there was a capital increase in the association at a meeting that was not attended by creditor banks, which diluted the securities held by the banks as collateral.
Berardo then said that he did not have to summon the creditors, and referred to a court order in Lisbon.
During his hearing, José Berardo laughed at the hypothesis that if the banks were to enforce the collateral, he would no longer be the boss of the association.