The instruction phase of the BES/ GES ‘mega-case’ was due to begin today, over seven years since the banking empire imploded, costing (still costing) the Portuguese taxpayer untold billions.
In true tabloid fashion, the stories this morning were ‘gushing’: the Public Minstry has 10,000 piece of evidence against Ricardo Salgado, the former head of the empire who has now been rendered incapable of personally responding to charges due to being afflicted by Alzheimer’s Disease.
This is the “most complex criminal inquiry in the history of Portuguese investigation”, explains Correio da Manhã – and irrespective of Mr Salgado’s current state of health, he is accused of 65 crimes, one being ‘criminal association’.
Yet Ivo Rosa – the judge in charge of this investigative opus – has suddenly ‘called in sick’.
Público says “there is no date forecast for his return to work”, while Rádio Renascença explains the proceedings have been adjourned until March 29.
All this ‘time’ could serve to see a number of crimes within this ‘inquiry of all inquiries’ lapse.
According to some reports, of the 277 crimes identified, 40 are on track to lapse very soon.
In the case of Mr Salgado, 15 of the 65 crimes levelled against him are equally at risk of hitting judicial time limits and ‘disappearing’ into the ether.
Correio da Manhã recalls that the Public Ministry alerted Judge Rosa to these possibilities last month, in order to impress on him the necessity to move the case along.
But here we are today: nothing is moving along, and nothing is likely to now before March 29 (other than the interviewing of a few ‘new’ suspects).
Rádio Renascença gives much of the background: this mega-case “adds to the main case 242 inquiries and complaints from more than 300 individuals and legal entities residing in Portugal and abroad. According to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, whose prosecution accounts for around 4,000 pages, the demise of the Espírito Santo Group (GES) in 2014 caused damages in excess of €11.8 billion”. Add to this the ongoing expenses relating to Novo Banco – the bank that was created out of the implosion of BES – and the consequences of this banking debacle are still in evidence today.
Judge Rosa has been working exclusively on the BES case, which he concentrated on after his controversial instruction phase deliberation of another ‘landmark’ case, Marquês (click here).
No report today explains the nature of Judge Rosa’s sudden illness.