LISBON, Dec 1 (Reuters) - The receiver for bankrupt Espirito Santo Financial Group (ESFG) has filed two lawsuits in Portugal against the transfer of viable assets to a new entity after Banco Espirito Santo (BES) had to be rescued in August.
Lawyer Laurence Jacques, the bankruptcy receiver of Luxembourg-registered ESFG, said the Bank of Portugal’s decisions to transfer good parts of the bank to the newly created Novo Banco and wind up BES were illegal.
It said the action “violates the Portuguese constitution and EU law and, most clearly, the Bank of Portugal decision is unlawfully detrimental to ESFG as shareholders of BES and to its creditors.”
ESFG was the bankrupt Espirito Santo family’s company that held the family’s 20 percent stake in BES before authorities launched a 4.9-billion-euro ($6.1 billion) rescue of the bank when it nearly went under due to its exposure to the family’s debts.
Novo Banco, in which ESFG does not have a stake, was created to retain the good assets of BES while the toxic family liabilities stayed with BES.
ESFG, along with the other main Espirito Santo family holding companies that are registered in Luxembourg, have all been declared bankrupt after amassing huge debts.
Portuguese authorities have launched an investigation into the collapse of the family holding and how its troubles spilled over to Portugal’s largest listed bank they originally founded.
The lawsuits aim to “declare null and void the decision to resolve BES adopted by the Bank of Portugal on Aug. 3 2014 and consequently to extinguish Novo Banco and have all opening assets and liabilities of Novo Banco transferred back to BES,” the statement said.
Portuguese authorities hope to sell Novo Banco next year to recover the funds that were used in the rescue.
The lawyer said the lawsuit also aims to “restore the unrestricted exercise of ESFG direct and indirect shareholding rights in BES” suspended by the Bank of Portugal in July.
Both the Bank of Portugal and Novo Banco declined to comment. (1 US dollar = 0.8021 euro) (Reporting By Axel Bugge; editing by Keith Weir)