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Bank of Portugal gets ‘one-in-the-eye’ over Salgado mismanagement case

Bank regulator the Bank of Portugal got one-in-the-eye yesterday as a court ruled its case against former BES ‘boss-of-all-this’ Ricardo Salgado was flawed.

Santarém’s competitions court has thrown out a previous condemnation that saw Salgado and one of his cohorts (Amilcar Morais) fined handsomely – although they may not have paid anything yet as the appeals procedure can put a freeze on convictions (very much depending on who has been convicted).

BdP is described as very likely to appeal, but the case meantime has been declared “null and void”.

A ‘victory for Salgado’? Perhaps.

The reason the case was dropped stems from what the court deemed as BdP’s disorganisation.

The banking regulator presented its ‘evidence’ in such a way that it might as well have presented nothing at all, ruled judge Sérgio Martins de Sousa: seven volumes of more than 2000 sheaves of paper, 36 annexes with 11,000 sheaves and 32 ‘digital’ folders.

All this was released to defendants 30 days before they were required to defend themselves – a task Salgado and Morais argued was impossible.

BdP’s intention was to see Salgado, BES et al condemned for not sufficiently securing business with all the necessary safeguards against money laundering and financial terrorism in its further-flung branches of Macau, Angola, Miami and Cape Verde.

Considering the banking regulator is the public institution that spends most per year on legal advice (we are talking millions of euros) it is nothing short of a scandal that it could still lose on this kind of technicality in a court of law.

In the ruling, dated December 6, Judge Martins de Sousa stressed that to have had a fighting chance of victory, BdP would have had to present its proof “in a systematic, coherent and organised way”, in a form that allowed the defendants “sufficient and complete understanding of the existing evidence”.

“As far as the judge was concerned”, writes negociosonline, “one cannot expect the fulfillment of the disproportionate and unreasonable”.

BdP, and its often criticised governor Carlos Costa, have yet to make any kind of statement, but reader commentary on both Portuguese and English-language sites is posing the inconvenient question: “Was this all set up to fail so that the defendants could get off?”

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com