JAIME Botin, Bankinter’s boss, will be standing trial for smuggling a €26 million Picasso out of Spain in 2017.
The picture was seized by the French authorities from Botin’s yacht in Corsica in 2017 although Botin insisted that he was taking it to Geneva, intending to store it at the Freeport warehouse complex.
Instead Botin, brother of Emilio Botin – founder of the Santander bank and uncle to the current president Ana Patricia Botin – is accused of taking the picture outside Spain in order to sell it, despite knowing that it was classed as not-exportable.
With the hearing set for July, the banker faces a four-year prison term if found guilty after he and his lawyers tried unsuccessfully to reach agreement with the Spanish government.
Botin blamed his legal problems on his earlier criticism of Spain’s former president, Mariano Rajoy and following the change of government last summer, tried to negotiate with the new Culture minister Jose Guirao.
The banker offered to put Head of a young woman on public display at the Fundacion Botin in Santander and abandon his attempts to export the picture in return for a lesser sentence, but the charges brought by Spain’s Culture department remain unchanged.