Celeste Cardona says accounts of Berardo companies were confirmed – The Economic Journal


Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD) former manager Celeste Cardona said today that at the time of granting loans to companies linked to Joe Berardo, their accounts were confirmed.

"They were (…) being sought solutions to what the risk posed. The opinion [de risco] was not unfavorable, had recommendations. I recall that it was necessary to confirm accounts of Metalgest and the Berardo Foundation, "Celeste Cardona said at her hearing at the commission of inquiry into recapitalization and management of CGD at the Assembly of the Republic in Lisbon.

In response to PCP deputy Duarte Alves, the administrator of the public bank between 2004 and 2008 also stated that it was said in the meetings that the businessman "had had extraordinary gains in the financial market and that he had significant assets."

Celeste Cardona also revealed that the credit operations to the companies linked to Joe Berardo were approved without unfavorable votes.

The former CGD administrator said that her "essential concern was to know under what conditions the total assets of the debtor could respond if there were defaults," and that "it was an operation made in terms of what was being done in the market."

"As far as I know, Mr. Berardo has a valuable art collection. It had a fortune valued at over 500 million [de euros]. He had assets that he sold in 2008 to secure additional financing, "he later replied to the deputy of PS Constança Urbano de Sousa, adding that Caixa's legal direction had a" special care "to safeguard the bank's interests.

Already Ms. Mariana Mortágua (BE), Celeste Cardona said that "Metalgest [uma das sociedades de Berardo] had own capital of 240 million euros, "and that before Berardo" or any other debtor "CGD demanded" special guarantees. "

"Mr. Berardo was a very rich person, it was said," said Celeste Cardona.

Regarding the personal endorsement given by the businessman in 2008, Cardona considered that "the assets of the debtor are not umbilically linked to the guarantee", and that this constituted "another means of pressure to the debtor than a requirement that may have some materiality."

Joe Berardo's visit to the CGD parliamentary inquiry committee on 10 October provoked a chorus of criticism, first and foremost from the way he addressed Members.

Before the parliamentarians, the Madeiran businessman declared that it is "clear" that he does not have debts, since the debts to the banks (including the public bank CGD) are not personal debts, but of entities related to him (Metalgest and José Berardo Foundation)

.

Berardo also said that he tried to "help the banks" with the provision of guarantees and that they were the ones that suggested the investment in shares of BCP.

In 2015, according to an audit by EY to CGD, the public bank's exposure to the José Berardo Foundation was 268 million euros, after a credit grant of 350 million euros to buy shares in BCP, giving which devalued considerably and generated large losses for the bank.

In the case of Metalgest, the exposure was 53 million euros.

On April 20, CGD, BCP and Novo Banco handed over an executive action to collect debts of Joe Berardo, of nearly 1,000 million euros, in the Judicial Court of the Region of Lisbon, also running the José Berardo Foundation and two companies linked to the entrepreneur.

The amount owed to the three financial institutions totals 962 million euros.



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