A reduced sentence of seven years has been handed out to a Banco Português de Negócios (BPN) manager for "extremely serious" conduct that "encourages people to start saving their money under the mattress," according to the judge in Santa Maria da Feira court, Aveiro.
Fernando Gonçalves, a former bank manager of BPN in Oliveira de Azeméis, Oporto, also has to pay €5 million in compensation to the bank which was bailed out by the State with €1.8 billion of taxpayers' money in 2008 and later sold to Angola’s Banco BIC for €40 million.
The 50-year-old was found guilty of 27 crimes of embezzlement as well as 31 counts of falsifying documents. In legal terms, he was given a single sentence of seven years imprisonment, but the sum of the penalties applied amounted to 111 years.
The banker deceived customers depositing money at a BPN branch, convincing them that they were making timely deposits at attractive interest rates. But, in fact, he diverted the cash into high risk financial products and managed to lose €1.5 million before anyone spotted his ruse.
When his clients wanted to withdraw money, Fernando Gonçalves simply forged signatures and moved money from clients’ accounts so he could make payments and remain undetected for five years between 2002 and 2007.
The judge concluded that "The conduct of this gentleman is extremely serious because it encourages people to start saving their money under the mattress."
"This man is not truly sorry. He thought he was caught out by chance," said the judge, noting that the banker’s "performance does not dignify the bank or the Portuguese banking system."
No reason was given for the ten year delay in concluding this case.