José 'Joe' Berardo, in happier times. Image Nuno Veiga/ Lusa

Berardo Foundation “asks for more time to present accounts”

Deadline to explain multi-million losses “extended for another 10 days”

The deadline for the José Berardo Foundation to submit a list of accounts, debts and assets which will make fascinating reading has been “extended for another 10 days” at the institution’s request, a government source has told Lusa today.

The foundation otherwise would have had to deliver its information to the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers (SGPCM) tomorrow, following the government’s decision to ‘extinguish’ the foundation, headquartered in Funchal, Madeira, through an order from the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.

This situation is being diplomatically reported today by Lusa, which explains, nonetheless, that the foundation’s directors will be held “personally and jointly and severally liable for the acts they perform” (and presumably have performed) “and the damages resulting from them, in violation of previous rules”.

This is the nub of the issue: understanding is that “activities developed by the foundation show that its real purpose does not coincide with the purpose envisaged in the institution’s statutes”. This at least was the conclusion of a report by the general inspectorate of finance (IGF) , which led to the government’s decision to extinguish the entity earlier this year.

As Observador online explained at the time, the understanding of the IGF audit was that Berardo Foundation funds were used “for the benefit of the family of Joe Berardo”.

As Lusa explains, “The José Berardo Foundation recorded losses of more than €15 million euros last year”, and much the same in 2021 and 2020 (losses of €15,025,603.25 and €15,055,176.14 respectively).

Back in 2017 the foundation’s net assets totalled €481.8 million – a figure that reflects a reduction of €255.8 million compared to 2016 and €757.3 million compared to 2011, with this situation originating mainly from the decrease in the value of financial investments”, says the State news agency, stressing the foundation “was an instrument in the management of Joe Berardo’s business, through which he contracted debt” with various Portuguese banks that are now trying to get their money back.

José Berardo was arrested on 29 June 2021 and later indicted on eight counts of aggravated fraud, money laundering, aggravated tax fraud, two counts of aggravated abuse of trust and one count of embezzlement following bankruptcy proceedings. He is currently on €5 million bail and prohibited from leaving the country without authorisation from the court. He remains one of Portugal’s most highly decorated citizens, having received the Order of the Infante, from President Ramalho Eanes in 1985, and the Grand Cross of the same order, in 2004, from President Jorge Sampaio.