Executives convicted of offenses will be allowed to head up Spanish banks

New government plan would see Bank of Spain have final word over “integrity” of candidate

The government began a consultation process on Monday for a royal decree that would reduce the requisites in terms of integrity, experience and good governance for candidates wishing to head up the country’s banks. According to the draft legislation, the Bank of Spain would be responsible for making the judgment as to whether these conditions are met, paving the way for a large amount of discretion regarding the final decision.

For the first time ever, having been convicted for criminal offenses will not be sufficient cause to stop an executive from taking a senior role in a bank. The text of the decree states that “anyone who has been able to demonstrate that their personal, commercial and professional conduct does not throw into doubt their capacity to diligently and prudently manage a bank” will be eligible.

If a candidate happens to be involved at the time in a criminal trial, the Bank of Spain will analyze “whether the sentence or sanction is final; the severity of the sentence or sanction handed down; and the classification of the facts that led to the sentence.”

The text pays particular attention as to whether the offenses are related to money laundering, tax evasion, Social Security fraud or violations of the regulatory framework covering banking.

Another issue that will be taken into account is “the time that has passed since the events took place,” as well as any “extenuating circumstances,” and “subsequent behavior.”

Also to be considered is whether there are “repeated sentences or sanctions due to offenses or infractions.”

Sources from the Economy Ministry have said that these new rules are in accordance with the guidelines set down by the European Banking Authority (EBA).

Legal sources have suggested that this legal reform could work to the advantage of Alfredo Sáenz, the chief executive of Spain’s Santander bank, should the appeal underway against his pardon prosper. Sáenz was sentenced to three months jail time for false accusation, but was subsequently pardoned by the courts.

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