Manuel Pinho today. Image: Filipe Amorim/ Lusa
Manuel Pinho today. Image: Filipe Amorim/ Lusa

EDP case delayed yet again because of strike by court officials

Case involving former economy minister and former banker has taken YEARS not to get to court

The start of the trial in the EDP case, in which former BES chairman Ricardo Salgado, former Economy Minister Manuel Pinho and his wife are accused, was postponed yet again today due to the public administration strike.

According to a court official, the first session should now take place next Tuesday.

The start of the trial had already been postponed last Tuesday due to the strike by court employees…

Today’s strike was called by the National Federation of Independent Trade Unions of the Public Administration and Entities with Public Purposes (FESINAP) for the Central, Regional and Local Public Administration and for entities in the public sector, which includes court employees.

As he left the court after learning of the postponement, Ricardo Salgado’s lawyer, Francisco Proença de Carvalho, told journalists that “there’s no point in blaming the court officials for the delay in the case”, since “the inquiry took more than 10 years.

“It hasn’t been the fault of court clerks” that this process, “has taken so long,” he said – not referring to the fact that his clients’ hope is the whole case against him will be thrown out because he is no longer in any kind of state to answer it.

Manuel Pinho however did regret this new postponement, explaining to reporters that as he is under house arrest in Braga (and has been since December 2021), he will have to travel back and forth yet again, to be present in court next Tuesday.

“I think I deserved a bit of respect,” he added, reiterating that he is “very prepared” to face trial for charges which he believes are based on “false and vindictive pretences”

Manuel Pinho’s wife, Alexandra Pinho, and her lawyer, Magalhães e Silva, also appeared in court today, only ‘to go home’ again.

Manuel Pinho is accused of one offence of passive corruption for an unlawful act, another offence of passive corruption, one offence of money laundering and one offence of tax fraud.

His wife, Alexandra Pinho, is facing trial for one offence of money laundering and another of tax fraud – in material co-authorship with her husband – while Ricardo Salgado is accused of one offence of active corruption for an unlawful act, one offence of active corruption and another of money laundering.

Initially linked to the management of the electricity company and alleged favours, this investigation began over a decade ago, in 2012, involving a regime dubbed CMEC, standing for the Costs of Maintaining Contractual Equilibrium.

The issue concerned suspicions of corruption and economic participation in a deal by former directors António Mexia and Manso Neto for the maintenance of the excessive rent contract, in which – according to the Public Prosecutor – they corrupted former minister Manuel Pinho (a premise he denies).

Last year, the Public Prosecutor’s Office separated the cases, focusing for the time being on suspicions of corruption and money laundering from the Espírito Santo Group (GES) in relation to Manuel Pinho, Alexandra Pinho and Ricardo Salgado.

In other words, the CMEC aspect of the case has still not come to trial

Source material: LUSA