BES boss cites key audiences with Cavaco Silva before bank collapse

As the PCP communist party accuse the Bank of Portugal of “noteworthy resistance” to furnish information to the government inquiry into the collapse of BES, Ricardo Salgado, the bank’s former boss, has revealed that he was received twice by the President of the Republic Cavaco Silva to discuss the “systemic risks” that the bank was facing.

It is the kind of information that will delight the 485 ‘small-shareholders’ reported to be in the process of suing not only the Bank of Portugal and its governor Carlos Costa, but also the State (see:

The shareholders’ civil action centres on the fact that the Bank of Portugal effectively misled the country in the weeks leading up to BES’ spectacular collapse, but “knew perfectly” what was going on.

Ricardo Salgado’s revelations that he also had meetings with Cavaco Silva to bring him up to speed with the bank’s financial difficulties would suggest that Silva too was in no doubt as to the dangers ahead.

According to reports in the Portuguese media, Salgado’s defence in the long-running investigation that has seen him on €3 million bail since last summer centres on the fact that he had repeatedly alerted the highest in the land to BES’ huge problems.

He is understood to have warned finance minister Maria Luís Albuquerque, meeting with her on two occasions, prime minister Passos Coelho, also meeting with him on two occasions, and Carlos Costa.

Facing the government inquiry yesterday, José Honório – the former president of Semapa, one of the many companies involved with BES for business – explained “the Group Espírito Santo knew everyone in Portugal”.

These latest “truths” to emerge have seen the PCP, Socialists and Bloco de Esquerda MPs all demanding “clarification” from Cavaco Silva, but thus far, Silva has been characteristically silent.

Another “big name” still missing from the witness bench at the inquiry is Paulo Portas – but his office assured journalists this week that the vice-PM would be appearing and has been scheduled to appear “since the first day”.

Portas too has been quiet recently as it is reported in the media that Euro MP Ana Gomes is pushing for a reopening of the labyrinthine “submarine case” and is citing particularly a rogatory letter from Bahamian authorities that allegedly went missing when Portas was minister for foreign affairs.

By NATASHA DONN [email protected]