With various stories doing the rounds over the weekend on alleged millions snaffled away by the Espírito Santo clan, anti-corruption MEP Ana Gomes has been speaking in Angola about how she “cannot understand” how the leader of the family, Ricardo Salgado – a defendant in so many convoluted financial cases – remains free.
Photographed holding her head in her hands and looking suitably exasperated, the veteran Socialist firebrand was speaking at a the 3rd conference on Transparency, Corruption, Good Governance and Citizenship, in Luanda, Angola.
She said “in many respects, one cannot see what (Portuguese) justice is doing” in leaving Salgado “and his henchmen” free so that the “feeling of impunity sets in”.
Gomes, who plans to leave Brussels after the elections next year and concentrate on her fight against corruption of all kinds, said she also could not understand why Portuguese justice appears to be making deals to recover money lost in the BES/ BESA (BES Angola) debacles “sparing the criminals who enter into these deals”.
The financial “hole caused by BESA is one of the principle holes that explain the collapse of BES”, Gomes added. A ‘hole’ for which Portuguese taxpayers are still paying.
“Even this year, another 418 million euros was announced for the vulture firm Lone Star that bought Novo Banco”, she added (Novo Banco being the ‘good bank’ that morphed from the ruins of BES). Yet no one really knows the terms of the deal with Lone Star. “This is important for Portugal, for the cleaning up of public and economic life here, and important also for Angola”, Gomes continued.
“We should all contribute so that justice can do its work, not wait for justice and its slothful calendar to unravel this dreadful trickery”.
Bizarrely, Álvaro Sobrinho – the man often cited for being a key player in ‘this dreadful trickery’ – has been quoted alongside Gomes as agreeing with her.
Says Díario de Notícias, he told Angola’s television station TPA that he wonders whether BESA collapsed at all, as he himself (the former president of the bank, once accused of having mislaid over €4 billion click here) was never aware of any financial problems at all.
The day after Sobrinho’s interview however, various former shareholders of BESA accused him of lying, saying the bank certainly did fail, and this was all due to “mistakes in his management and the money he removed”.