Spain’s most powerful businessman has gone on trial in Madrid over charges he mis-spent millions of euros of company money. Emilio Botin is chairman of the country’s biggest bank, Santander Central Hispano, and the richest man in Spain. The claims stem from early retirement payments of 164 million euros to two former executives from Banco Central Hispano, which Santander bought in 1999.
He told reporters he had complete respect for the justice system but said he would not talk about the outcome of the trial. The court session was suspended after an hour so that new documents could be studied. Botin will be joined in the dock by former board members Jose Maria Amustegui and Jose Angel Corostegui, who received the payouts.
The case began after two Santander shareholders filed a criminal complaint over the payments. The bank has repeatedly stated the compensation was perfectly legal and was approved by the Santander board and its shareholders.