Thursday, February 4, 2010

Billionaire Whistle-Blower Loses $730 Million Alleging Fraud
By Vernon Silver and Anabela Reis

Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) -- On a December afternoon in 2007, billionaire Jose Berardo walked into the attorney general’s 18th-century headquarters in Lisbon to rat out executives at the Portuguese bank on which he had staked his fortune.

Berardo, whose 7 percent share in Banco Comercial Portugues SA was worth about $1 billion at the time, says he met with Attorney General Fernando Pinto Monteiro for two hours. The investor handed Portugal’s top prosecutor several folders of evidence showing that executives at Portugal’s largest publicly traded bank had allegedly used offshore companies to try to boost the share price and their own bonuses. Berardo says he hoped his disclosure would spur the prosecution of the Oporto- based bank’s chairman, with whom the investor had clashed over governance issues, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its March issue.

“Nobody can guarantee you’re going to have success, but it’s another thing to be crooked,” says Berardo, 65, who owns one of the world’s most-valuable private modern-art collections. “I want the money back that they took.” FULL STORY

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