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Spanish judge rules Santander can be charged in Banco Popular criminal case

The Spanish judge leading a criminal investigation into the fall of Banco Popular Español SA has ruled that the bank's new owner Banco Santander SA can be charged in criminal proceedings against the former bank, Spain's High Court said March 20.

Santander had appealed against a former ruling that it would have to take part in criminal proceedings as the bank's new owner, arguing that since Popular no longer existed, the latter could not be held criminally liable.

However, the judge, José Luis Calama, has ruled that since Popular is a company, it does not mean that it is no longer criminally liable. That responsibility is transferred to the entity taking over the bank, according to his ruling.

The Spanish High Court started its criminal investigation in late 2017 over alleged mismanagement of the bank's finances by former Banco Popular management into Popular's failure.

Popular was wound down by European authorities and sold to Santander for €1 on June 7, 2017, in the EU's first banking resolution since new post-crisis rules were implemented. Investors lost about €3 billion in the bank, and some have undertaken legal action against the European Commission and the Single Resolution Board, the EU agency in charge of winding down banks, in the European Court of Justice.