March 12, 2018 / 5:34 PM / 10 months ago

Brazil's BTG Pactual prepares for 'gradual' return of Esteves -CFO

SAO PAULO, March 12 (Reuters) - Latin America's largest independent investment bank Banco BTG Pactual SA is preparing for the gradual return of its founder and former chief executive André Esteves when courts drop charges against him, a senior executive told Reuters.

Chief Financial Officer João Dantas said in an interview that no formal plan has been drawn up yet for Esteves to return to the controlling group, board of directors and management of the bank where he remains the largest shareholder.

"BTG Pactual wants good partners, and Esteves is considered to be one of them. When he is done with pending legal issues, we will be comfortable with his gradual return," said Dantas. "BTG Pactual will take this decision with much prudence."

Esteves left BTG Pactual's controlling group after he was arrested in November 2015. Prosecutors accused him of trying to buy the silence of a witness involved in a sprawling bribery scheme.

After his release in April 2016, Esteves, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, returned to BTG in a senior advisory role. In September last year, Brazilian prosecutors recommended that charges against Esteves be dropped.

Dantas said that although BTG Pactual is preparing for the return of Esteves, it would be on terms completely different from his prior role.

Before the arrest, the bank's image was closely tied to Esteves, who was a major dealmaker and influential business leader with connections in the country's ruling party at the time.

Dantas said BTG Pactual does not in future want the public image of the bank to be so closely tied to one person.

On Monday, newspaper O Estado de S Paulo reported that the bank was considering making Esteves chairman again. (Reporting by Carolina Mandl Editing by Brad Haynes and Rosalba O'Brien)

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