Santander lost a battle with high-profile banker Andrea Orcel after he was ordered to pay 68 million euros (58 million pounds) for withdrawing his job offer.
The Spanish lender, which has a large network of branches in the UK, offered the UBS banker the position of CEO at the end of 2018, after advising Santander for more than two decades.
During this time, he developed a close relationship with the wealthy Botín family, who founded and continues to run the bank.
But Santander later decided not to proceed with the appointment due to “unacceptable” costs of compensation for past receipts from UBS after months of talks with a Swiss bank.
Mr Orcel, now chief executive of Italy’s UniCredit Bank, has claimed tens of millions in lost pay and has now gone nearly £ 60 million richer after winning the battle.
According to the ruling seen by Bloomberg, Mr Orcel’s contract was valid and the bank terminated it by suspending the appointment.
Santander’s decision not to hire Mr. Orcel in 2019 has raised eyebrows in the financial industry as banks routinely buy new employees from their long-term compensation schemes and should be adept at determining costs.
However, the Spanish lender has always insisted that “the strict management procedure has been changed” and that the contract has never been signed, having previously argued that “the offer letter is not a contract” in Spanish law.
Mr Orcel, in 2013, when he joined UBS, amassed £ 17 million in “golden healthy”, which Swiss politicians at the time called “outrageous”.
When he appeared before the British Banking Standards Commission the same year, he was also accused of being a “business addict” and a “Ronaldo of banking”.
A Santander spokesman said: “We strongly disagree with the verdict. The Santander Committee is confident that we will be successful in the appeal, as we have been in two criminal charges that the courts have already dealt with in this case.”