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Opinion

Santander slums it in Panama

Among the delegates at the 2008 Felaban conference in Panama City were two senior members of the fixed-income department at Santander, named best bank in Euromoney’s 2008 Awards for Excellence in July. The Spanish bank sent Dan Vallimarescu (head of DCM) and Erik Deiden (senior VP) to the conference but unfortunately managed to book their trip so late that the best hotels available were not exactly Panama’s finest.

"The rooms here are absolutely disgusting," reads a review of the hotel in which Vallimarescu and Deiden eventually found themselves. "There was blood on my sheets, a filthy tile bathroom floor, discolored paint, light bulbs that needed to be replaced, and an emergency evacuation info page that was relevant for the eighth floor even though I was on the sixth."

To reach the lifts at this hotel, guests must pass through a gaudily lit casino where prostitutes advertise their wares and neon signs flicker distractingly overhead. Not exactly the ideal location for two such prominent bankers, but at least they will be able to offer evidence of their own prudence should Santander succumb to the financial crisis and be forced to cut staff.

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