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Bahamas leaks: 28 Portuguese and 22 expat residents identified in new tax haven exposé

Twenty-eight Portuguese – among them Gulbenkian heir and oil baron Micael Gulbenkian and numerous bankers – have been identified in a new exposé on offshore tax havens, this time in the Bahamas.

According to Expresso, the list includes 22 expat residents and known fraudsters but no politicians.

Público suggests the story centres on as many as €1.3 billion leaving Portugal in the four years between 2010 and 2014 – a fact that puts the Bahamas behind only Hong Kong and Panama for its popularity in sheltering so-called offshores.

On a wider scale, Público claims over €10 billion “left Portugal for offshores during these years”, many of them going to lesser havens like the United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Bolivia, Guernsey and even Gibraltar.

But it is Expresso that “dishes the dirt” – naming names and yet again shining light on an activity that is seen as contributing to the world’s financial state of crisis.

A bit like the Panama Papers, this new data came from a German newspaper, in this case Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared it with the International Consortium of Journalists and its media partners Expresso and TVI.

The Bahamas Leaks “contain 1.3 million files relating to 176,000 companies and including the names of 25,000 directors and personnel of these offshores over the years”, says Expresso.

The 28 Portuguese were directors of 38 companies “incorporated in the country made up of more than 3,000 islands and situated north of Cuba, in the Atlantic”.

Unlike the Panama Papers, this latest dossier does not give detailed information on contracts or the final destination of all the billions, but it does allow access to who is in charge of offshore companies and when they were appointed.

Thus, the “dirt” – the rogue’s gallery of names who are all maintaining that they have done nothing wrong.

Beyond Micael Gulbenkian, great-grandson of the founder of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation that owns fuel giant Partex Oil and Gas, there is Pedro Morais Leitão, director of Oi – the telecommunications company now infamous for its catastrophic ‘takeover’ of Portugal Telecom, Joaquim Marques dos Santos, former president of Banif, Carlos Duarte de Almeida (a one-time executive president of Banif), José Maria Franco O’Neill – a former director of the Lisbon Metro – Carlos Barbosa da Cruz, a former director of the Cofina media group and even a former member of Durão Barroso’s team in Europe, Neelie Kroes.

In the case of Kroes, RTP reports that her lawyer has reacted saying Kroes did not in fact take up the directorship with her name on it, as the company never became operational and “collapsed as a result of a massive accountancy scandal”.

Kroes, 75, is currently a consultant for Bank of America, Uber and Merrill Lynch, adds RTP.

Alleged fraudsters on the list are Portuguese António Ferreira, Cristina Moreira and Rui Salvador.

The trio, says Expresso, were behind a company called LibertaGia Mondial “connected to one of the largest swindles on the Iberian Peninsula” and which has defrauded “more than two million people throughout the world”.

LibertaGia Mondial had only one name associated with it – that of António Ferreira – and in 2015 Cristina Moreira became its president.

Expresso claims it has tried without success to contact both, while Salvador has been at the centre of an investigation by Spanish police since 2013.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com