José de Oliveira e Costa – the former president of BPN bank that collapsed as a result of endemic corruption within it – has died, aged 84, having never served a day of his 15-year jail term.
True, he was detained in preventive custody for 11 months when the scandal first broke in 2008, and there followed a period of ‘house arrest’. But there remains the feeling that every banker implicated in every Portuguese scandal this far has somehow side-stepped the ‘consequences’ very neatly.
In Oliveira e Costa’s case, prolonged illness was another reason for remaining ‘at home’, where he died on Monday afternoon.
José de Oliveira e Costa was secretary of state for fiscal affairs during the PSD government of Cavaco Silva, and went on to head first Finibanco, and then BPN.
He was ‘the principal defendant’ in the BPN case – focusing on a 700 million euro hole in the bank’s finances – which dragged on for years as the bank itself was ‘nationalised’ at a cost to the taxpayers of around €5 billion.
Says Público, the bank’s former head didn’t attend court sessions, “due to his poor state of health”.
Only last October, his jail term was ‘exacerbated’ by new condemnations for tax fraud, but these didn’t increase his sentence (possibly because judges knew he would never get to serve it).
Público adds that in “another case also connected to BPN, Oliveira e Costa was condemned to 12 years in jail for two crimes of qualified fraud”. The sentence was tagged on to the 15-year term, without extending it.