Ricardo Salgado
Image of Ricardo Salgado taken some time ago by Paulo Novais/ Lusa. More recently Mr Salgado has attended court hearings supported by his wife and in a visibly deteriorated condition.

Former banking boss, 79, launches ‘last ditch’ appeal against 8-years behind bars

… a sentence that will kill him, argues defence

Ricardo Salgado, the former CEO of Banco Espírito Santo (BES), the private Portuguese bank that collapsed in 2014 in a scandal of alleged corruption, has lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court of Justice (STJ) against the eight-year jail term he was handed in a case spun off from the broader Operation Marquês.

The request, which Lusa has seen, was filed last week and may be the last chance for the former banker to have his appeal admitted by the STJ, with only Portugal’s Constitutional Court (TC) remaining.

Sentenced in March 2022 to a single six-year jail term for three offences of abuse of trust, Salgado then saw the Lisbon Court of Appeal (TRL) increase that sentence to eight years in May this year. 

He has twice lodged appeals, but they were not admitted.

Meantime, the 79-year-old is on trial in another, and still trying desperately for a court to accept the medical diagnosis of advancing Alzheimer’s disease.

Say his lawyers, “putting a defendant with Alzheimer’s disease in prison is tantamount to ordering his death sentence“. Indeed, they suggest the only reason Mr Salgado is facing eight years behind bars is that he is who he is – or at least was.

Mr Salgado’s defence team has also denounced what it calls “a terrifying judicial system that tramples on human dignity and health and apparently doesn’t mind applying a camouflaged death sentence.

This new appeal argues that “care of the defendant’s health must take precedence over the execution of (his) prison sentence“; that the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s “is no-one’s fault” and that the TRL’s decision entails violations of the Penal Code, the Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as errors of law – and insufficient evidence.

Ricardo Salgado’s last nine years have been filled with litigation and accusations of various forms of corruption.

The former banker was accused of 21 crimes in the Operação Marquês case, but at a pre-trial session on 9 April 2021 the judge, Ivo Rosa, struck down almost all of the charges against him.

Salgado was eventually ordered to stand trial in a separate case for three offences of abuse of trust, due to illicit transfers of more than €10 million from the group, in which he was found guilty.

The trial into BES, for which Mr Salgado faces as many as 65 crimes, has not yet begun. ND