The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) has instigated formal bankruptcy proceedings against Banque Privée Espírito Santo SA, following evaluations that the bank has been over-indebted.
The Banco Espirito Santo Group and its affiliates have been under siege this summer on the heels of a management fallout that left little contingency plans for the upheaval that followed short after. Banque Privée Espírito Santo SA itself has been in voluntary liquidation since July, and now stands to reimburse clients in rapid fashion.
FINMA has been working close with the bank and ensuring a transparent liquidation process and one that does not breach any acceptable measures. Unfortunately, FINMA has found the entity to be over-indebted and in drastic need of reevaluating its assets, following a shortage of equity capital needed.
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Traditional routes such as recapitalizing the bank through shareholder contributions has already been ruled out, given the insolvency of the parent company, Espirito Santo Group. Consequently, FINMA initiated bankruptcy proceedings against the affiliate.
Espirito Santo has been a destabilizing force in Europe, namely as it constitutes one of the largest banks in Portugal, fully capable of unraveling the fragile situation there in the aftermath of a bailout cessation. While a number of key defaults in Portugal has added to the instability of the group, Privée Espírito Santo SA was not overly affected, given that it was isolated from the restructuring measures undergone in Portugal.
FINMA has thus taken steps to ensure investor protection, culminating in the imposition of measures against the bank. This includes the repayment of privileged deposits of up to $106,000 (CHF100,000).