Almost nine years since Portugal’s now notorious family bank implosion
The investigating judge in the BES/GES case – harking back to the 2014 collapse of Banco Espírito Santo and the group of which it formed a part – has postponed his reading of the decision of the pre-trial hearing, scheduled for Friday, until Monday July 31.
The reason for yet another ‘delay’ in a process that has dragged on seemingly interminably for years is that the decision has not yet be ‘completed’.
“In view of the current state of preparation of the instructional decision in the present case, it does not appear that it will be completed on the date already scheduled for the respective reading, it is important to give no effect to the mentioned date, thus obviating the inconveniences associated with the displacement of all procedural actors and the logistics necessary for that purpose,” reads the order released by Judge Pedro Santos Correia, to which Lusa has had access.
Today’s change in that scheduling also refers to the court. The decision will be read in the Central Criminal Court of Lisbon, not in the Monsanto court where the pre-trial hearing took place in May.
The judge’s instructional decision will determine whether or not the 25 defendants will face trial and for what offences, explains Lusa.
In May, public prosecutors argued that “there is sufficient evidence for all the defendants to be put on trial, pronounced in the exact terms of the indictment,” while lawyers for most of them cargued that none of them should be tried.
The pre-trial phase started on April 26, 2022 – then in the hands of another judge, Ivo Rosa, who was replaced by Santos Correia a few months later, by decision of the Superior Council of the Judiciary.
On July 14, 2020, the investigation by prosecutors at the Central Department of Investigation and Criminal Action (DCIAP) resulted in the charging of 25 defendants (18 people and seven companies), including former CEO of Banco Espírito Santo, Ricardo Salgado.
Mr Salgado was charged with 65 offences, including criminal association, active corruption, document forgery, qualified fraud, money laundering, infidelity and market manipulation.
This case has long been considered one of the largest and most complex in Portugal’s history, bringing together some 242 criminal investigations, and the complaints of more than 300 people and companies, resident in Portugal and abroad, who lost money. With regard to the 300 people, some lost their life savings; their dreams of comfortable retirement.
Meantime, Ricardo Salgado has developed Alzheimer’s disease, and his defence doesn’t believe he is even fit to stand trial.
For now, the only certainty is that losses to former BES clients and customers, including the Portuguese State, came to more than €11.8 billion.