CHEGA requests inquiry into “possible political interference” in BIC and BANIF
CHEGA leader André Ventura. Image: Hugo Delgado/ Lusa

CHEGA requests inquiry into “possible political interference” in BIC and BANIF

PM’s spat with former central bank governor continues

Following publication of the book “O Governador” – and aside from the lawsuit seemingly underway between Messers Costa and Costa – CHEGA has seized on the essence of the furore (that attempts were made to guide the Bank of Portugal in its handling of banking crises) and is requesting a parliamentary inquiry.

Says Lusa today, the focus would be to “assess possible political interference by the prime minister over the former governor of the Bank of Portugal in BIC, and whether the resolution of Banif was subject to abusive interference by the government”.

Whether CHEGA is successful however is a very moot point. First, the mere request flies in the face of the prime minister’s public protestations that none of what has been related in “O Governador” on the subject of his alleged interactions with Carlos Costa actually happened (certainly not in the way they have been presented).

Second, CHEGA will require either “majority approval in parliament” for a parliamentary commission, or the signatures of at least 46 MPs (CHEGA has only 12).

On the basis that opposition parties appear to want to maintain a ‘wide berth’ of the right wing party, it seems more likely that another political force will have to request a parliamentary inquiry, if one is to move forwards.

The next few days will tell where this is all going. 

Since the story ‘broke’, an international arrest warrant has been lodged for Isabel dos Santos – the figure António Costa is alleged to have been trying to protect. And on the subject of BANIF, the book launch in Lisbon last week saw television presenter Luís Marques Mendes call for an investigation by the Public Ministry.

Indeed, Marques Mendes referred to the chapter on the resolution of BANIF (the bank’s sale to Santander) as one of the most “explosive”, suggesting political interference did most certainly appear to take place.

His speech at the launch of “O Governador” stressed that the Public Ministry has opened inquiries and named defendants “for much less (…) The main players in this story owe explanations to the authorities and the country”, he told his audience.

CHEGA’s hope is for the forming of a parliamentary inquiry “immediately”, that would run for 120 days, with a dual objective, Lusa continues.

“First, to assess possible political interference by the Prime Minister on the former governor of the Bank of Portugal, regarding the position of the businesswoman Isabel dos Santos in BIC Português S.A., seeking to ascertain whether there was abuse of power by the leader of the government in order to safeguard objectives or interests outside the stability of the Portuguese financial market.

“Secondly, the party wants parliament to evaluate whether the Banif resolution process was subject to abusive interference by the government, either in the respective negotiation and information process with European institutions, or in the choice of the financial company that would acquire Banif”.

In its statement, CHEGA refers to the revelations in “O Governador” – written by Observer journalist Luís Rosa – revelations which António Costa has repeatedly trashed as “false and offensive” to his “good name, honour and consideration”.

CHEGA insists the alleged telephone call, as well as the written message that António Costa is said to have sent Carlos Costa following the first media stories on the new book “are indications of unacceptable pressure by political power” on the central bank, adding that  “possible crimes of abuse of power or even prevarication” could be involved.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com