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BES protestors desperate to be heard

novobancoNovo Banco in Viseu was the latest branch invaded by angry protestors who simply want their money back.

Fed up with Chief Executive Stock da Cunha’s ‘nothing to do with me’ attitude, around 50 BES bondholders, whose investments were wiped out when BES collapsed last August, say they will not give up and are pressing for an audience with the Minister of Finance.

This morning’s protest saw the investors chained together lying on the floor of the Viseu branch and vociferouly demanding the return of the money that they invested in Espírito Santo Group commercial bonds.

The protesters left the branch when the police arrived which brought an end to chanting and whistling, but not after some angry scenes when staff tried unsuccessfully to remove them.

The protesters managed to stop the traffic outside the branch in the centre of Viseu as they made their way to branches of Bank of Portugal, Millenium BCP and Montepio Geral, before returning to Novo Banco.

One of their demands is for the removal of Carlos Costa, Governor of the Bank of Portugal, as they say he failed to supervise BES in the lead up to its collapse, a view held by many as Costa's closeness to the BES top management seems to have blinded him as to the regulatory role he was meant to be undertaking.

"Thieves and swindlers" was the main chant today from the protestors who said that many amongst them had lost their life savings in ‘safe investments’ offered in branch by BES staff whom the customers knew and trusted not to sell them up the river.

 Around 2,500 customers have lost a total of €550 million and the protestors’ association has called for urgent meetings with the Minister of Finance, the Stock Market Regulator (CMVM) and the Bank of Portugal.

"We want to create a platform for dialogue and to find a solution. We are all customers of Novo Banco, but it seems that we are receiving abusive treatment" said one of the Viseu 50.

The Novo Banco chief has said that if he pays up, this will damage Novo Banco’s liquidity. The bank has just posted whopping losses of €468 in the five months to the end of 2014, and Stock da Cunha’s position now is in question in the lead up to the sale of the bank this summer, although to lose two chief executives in less than a year would make Carlos Costa look even more foolish.

The government say the losses are a commercial matter, the regulators are trying to shift blame between themselves and the Novo Banco chief says there’s nothing he can do.

Meanwhile the flash protests continue until at least one of those asked for an interview accepts the invitation and deigns to discuss the investors' legitimate complaints.