The so-called slush fund of failed financial Grupo Espírito Santo ‘illegally financed’ the candidacy of Aníbal Cavaco Silva in the presidential campaign of 2011.
This is the claim of weekly news magazine Sábado whose journalists appear to have crossed-referenced payments from 10 former directors and found them reimbursed – many to the exact ‘cêntimo’ – by ES Enterprises, the suspected ‘saco azul’ or ‘slush fund’ of Grupo Espírito Santo, overseen by BES banking boss Ricardo Salgado.
Picking the story up, ECO online explains the “scheme will have had the objective of getting round Portuguese law on the financing of electoral campaigns which only allows donations up to a certain value and conceded by individuals, never by companies or collective entities”.
On paper the ‘donations’ may have looked ‘kosher’: but in being reimbursed, it suggests the money all came from ES Enterprises.
As it was, Cavaco Silva ‘romped home’ to hold the presidency for a second five-year term.
In total, says Sábado, his candidacy was illicitly financed to the tune of 253,000 euros.
Cavaco Silva meantime was reported by Sábado as failing to respond to attempts by journalists to get answers, and up till now no-one else on the receiving end of the allegations has given their side of the story.
But Sábado’s dossier appears to have been handed to DCIAP (the central department of criminal investigation and penal action), which is reported as “investigating”.
The crime of illegal financing carries a prison term of one to three years, says ECO online.
Considering the overall collapse of GES/ BES has yet to make it into a courtroom, it could be years however before these new details are properly established.
Going back five years to the months leading up to BES’ tumultous implosion – which led to a €4.9 billion bailout that is still having repercussions today – it’s clear that Cavaco Silva supported the bank all the way through to its final moments.
In July, a month before BES went to the wall, he was telling Portuguese citizens that they “could trust” in the bank. He had seen the figures, he said, and he was quite convinced that BES had enough cash in reserve to cover any adverse exposure.
Cavaco also applauded the way in which the Bank of Portugal was dealing with the situation.
When one considers the agony that befell so many small investors, and the criticism that came to be levelled against the Bank of Portugal, very little of what Cavaco Silva said ended up ringing true.
ECO adds that in the year he won his second term in the presidency, BES registered losses of 109 million euros.
Cavaco Silva “becomes irritated seeing name associated with Salgado”
This morning tabloid Correio da Manhã reports that its journalists caught up with the former two-term president on Thursday and questioned him over Sábado’s allegations.
Cavaco became “visibly irritated”, says the paper, guaranteeing that he was never involved in the accounts of his party.
When CM quizzed him on “whether his friendship with Ricardo Salgado influenced affirmations he made in 2014, telling Portuguese people that they could trust the bank, the former president retorted: ‘I never had any kind of friendship with Ricardo Salgado”.
The paper says Cavaco Silva then appeared to walk away, only to return to stress: “My memory knows word for word everything I did”.