Spanish supreme court bars Santander's Saenz from working as banker

Monday, January 17, 2011

Spain's supreme court has decided to bar Santander's (NYSE: STD) CEO Alfredo Saenz from working as a banker, fine him and increase his prison sentence to eight months from six, Madrid-based El Mundo reported.

According to the report, the supreme court rejected an appeal to overturn a decision in December 2009, in which Saenz was convicted of making false accusations in 1994, when he headed Santander's subsidiary Banesto.

"I do not have any comment to make about a ruling that I do not know about," Santander chairman Emilio Botin told Spanish radio RNE.

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Despite the increased sentence, Saenz will not spend any time in jail due to Spanish law, in which first-time offenders do not have to serve time if sentenced to less than two years.

Saenz has spearheaded the bank's expansion outside Spain - especially in the US - and had to deal with the Bernard Madoff scandal that tainted the bank's reputation as an investment advisor. Saenz, who has been group CEO since 2002, has not been seen as an enthusiast of the group's Latin American units or their expansion within the group over his tenure.