Billionaire banker André Esteves resigned from his post as chairman and CEO of BTG Pactual, Brazil’s largest independent investment bank, after the country's Supreme Court on Sunday agreed to federal prosecutors’ request extend his arrest indefinitely over graft charges. Esteves was arrested last Wednesday over a corruption investigation into state-controlled oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA, more commonly known as Petrobras, and was initially scheduled to be released from jail Sunday.
Prosecutors claim that arrested Esteves, and Delcidio Amaral, leader of the ruling Workers’ Party in Brazil’s Senate, tried to convince a suspect in the corruption investigation targeting Petrobras to disagree with a plea bargain. Local media reported, according to Reuters, that police found documents suggesting that BTG Pactual also paid 45 million reais ($11.7 million) to speaker of the lower house of Congress Eduardo Cunha to support a decree that would favor the bank, Reuters reported. Prosecutors used the documents to convince the court to extend Esteves’ arrest. A lawyer for Esteves has so far denied any wrongdoing on his client's part.
On Sunday, Persio Arida, who was chosen last week to lead the bank temporarily, was appointed BTG Pactual’s executive chairman, the Wall Street Journal reported. Roberto Saloutti, the former chief operating officer, and Marcelo Kalim, the former chief financial officer, were reportedly appointed co-CEOs.
Esteves still owns 28.8 percent of the bank, including a golden share that would give him the rights to veto any board decisions. BTG Pactual has 70 partners who control 80 percent of the capital together, Reuters reported, adding that that Kalim and Saloutti together now own about 5.5 percent each. The seven main partners, including Kalim, Saloutti and vice president of the bank Huw Jenkins, were mulling buying out Esteves’ stake, worth 6.05 billion reais ($1.5 billion), Reuters reported.
Following Esteves’ arrest, several clients withdrew money from hedge funds and other investment options offered by the bank causing the share price to drop over 25 percent until Friday. However, the bank has tried to pacify customers. Arida released a letter to the bank’s clients and trading partners reiterating that the bank is not the focus of the ongoing Petrobras scandal investigation, where executives allegedly inflated contracts with certain companies and bribed politicians, the Journal reported.
On Sunday, the bank’s partners met to discuss the selling of a 12 percent stake in Rede D'Or São Luiz SA, the country's largest hospital chain, to Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte Ltd for about 2.5 billion reais. While negotiations for the stake sale were ongoing since August, the pace of talks has increased with Esteves’ arrest, Reuters reported, citing sources. The deal could bring some money into the bank after investors pulling out funds following the arrest.