EDP corruption case “delayed indefinitely by higher court”

The much-trumpeted EDP ‘corruption case’ – involving a former minister and the two head honchos of EDP itself- has been indefinitely delayed by the Constitutional Court, to the point, that ‘proscription’ could kick in (meaning the prosecution could effectively ‘run out of time’ and the case would be archived).

Considering the country is on judicial ‘thin ice’ right now (three Appeal Court judges are being accused of serious corruption (click here) while there is a backlog of over a million cases waiting to be heard), it’s hardly the time to see an exhaustive (and expensive) case in which consumers have been allegedly overcharged by €2.5 billion ‘collapse’ due to the time taken for it to actually reach a courtroom.

It would however be a situation of ‘history repeating itself’ – in as much as so many cases drag on to the point that defendants can die of old age or infirmity before justice is seen to be done (click here and here).

What has happened this time is that a judge who, according to Correio da Manhã, has been considering the appeal lodged by former government minister Manuel Pinho for a year has only now decided to request the ‘case files’ from DCIAP (the department of criminal investigation and penal action).

Says the paper, this effectively puts the whole investigation at risk.

“The facts relating to 2007 (the point where the investigation starts) proscribe within less than a year,and in five months the coercion measures imposed on EDP’s president António Mexia also proscribe. The charges have to be decided, but this can only happen when the case is returned to DCIAP”.

Says CM, the files requested by judge Mariana Gomes Canotilho involve ‘thousands of pages’.

Meantime, António Mexia and his ‘right hand’ Jorge Manso Neto are ‘appealing’ the coercion measures imposed recently (barring them not only from doing their jobs, but even from entering their office building) – and a decision here may come before DCIAP gets its hands back on the case files.

All in all, it’s not looking very promising … for prosecutors, that is.

As to the nitty gritty of the case – often referred to as the ‘excessive rents scandal – it centres on a complex CMEC (Contractual Equilibrium Maintenance Cost) payment system where customers were charged for years for power stations on stand-by in case they were needed. This system caused a marked increase in electricity costs to the point that in 2018 one expert told a government inquiry committee that EDP should actually return to consumers as much as €3 billion ‘overcharged’.

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