Billet

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Investing in bonds

Portugal’s second largest bank, Banco Espirito Santo, sold its own bonds, and bonds issued by companies linked to the bank, to its retail clients. Bank branch managers told retail customers that the products were as safe as deposits but with better returns. The prospectus failed to mention sufficiently clearly that there were real risks associated with this debt.

 

Soon after, the bank became insolvent and required a €4.9 billion bailout from the Portuguese central bank. Consumers who had made investments based on the prospectus lost their money. In 2016, the Portuguese government announced a plan that would allow around 4,000 retail investors who lost their savings when the bank became insolvent, to get 60 per cent of their money back. Under the plan, retail investors are expected to receive €286 million over three years, of the €485 million they originally invested into Banco Espirito Santo.