Ailing Portuguese bank's shares sink after losses

In this July 28, 2014 photo, people use ATMs at a branch of Portuguese bank Banco Espirito Santo in Lisbon. The Espirito Santo family business survived wars, dictatorship, revolution and family feuds for almost 150 years. Now, one of Europe's last banking dynasties is being stripped of its wealth and influence amid accounting irregularities, huge unreported debts, and a police investigation. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Shares in troubled Portuguese bank Banco Espirito Santo have plunged by more than 50 percent in volatile early trading on the Lisbon stock exchange a day after it reported a record half-year loss of 3.58 billion euros ($4.8 billion).

The bank's share price, which four months ago was around 1.3 euros, fell as low as 0.17 euros Thursday.

The fall began after an audit discovered accounting irregularities at the bank's parent company and gathered momentum after three of the Espirito Santo family's holding companies requested bankruptcy protection. Police suspect the former chief executive of fraud and forgery.

The bank's new board said its recovery plan will include a recapitalization and asset sale.

The Bank of Portugal stripped the Espirito Santo family's holding company of its voting rights at the bank.