Friday, 28 November 2008

Jose Oliveira e Costa, Former chief of Spain's BPN bank Banco Portugal de Negocios (BPN) between 1997 and early 2008, was arrested

Jose Oliveira e Costa, Former chief of Spain's BPN bank Banco Portugal de Negocios (BPN) between 1997 and early 2008, was arrested Thursday on charges of suspected tax fraud, money laundering, forgery, abuse of credit and illegal gains. Portuguese judicial authorities have detained the former president of financially troubled small commercial bank BPN on charges including alleged tax fraud and money laundering, local media reported Thursday. The Central Criminal Tribunal in Lisbon sentenced Costa to three months of preventive detention Friday after an eight-hour hearing, the Portuguese daily Diario de Noticias reported. The detention aims to prevent the suspect from escaping and destroying documents that may contain incriminating evidence, the paper said, quoting court officials. The court will decide whether to extend Costa's detention after the three-month period expires, said the report. The government said earlier this month that BPN had suffered losses worth about 700 million euros (880 million U.S. dollars) due to bad management and malpractice. It also decided to nationalize the bank in a bid to prevent a financial crisis chain reaction in Portugal. Following the government's announcement, local media revealed that police had long started investigations into BPN, which is suspected of being involved in money laundering. Portugal's banks have weathered the financial crisis relatively well as they hold no U.S. subprime assets and have relatively conservative lending practices.

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