Former BES boss finally walks free

Seven weeks after a judge ruled that former BES boss Ricardo Salgado could leave house arrest, the 71-year-old is finally free to walk out of his Cascais mansion and go more or less anywhere that he pleases, as long as he doesn’t leave the country or contact any of the other defendants involved in the case dubbed “Universe Espírito Santo”.

The tactics used by the man who used to be known as “dono disto tudo” (the owner of all this) won the day.

Prosecuting “superjudge” Carlos Alexandre had set bail in October at €3 million – that is, €3 million in addition to the €3 million Salgado had already posted for bail in another corruption case in which he is cited (Monte Branco).

But Salgado argued that with his assets frozen and properties round the world seized, he simply didn’t have that kind of money.

Alexandre then tried the tack of reducing bail by half. Salgado continued to maintain that he had no money. Had he conceded he would almost certainly have been opening himself up to further investigation, by showing prosecutors avenues of wealth that they must have missed.

It was this that national tabloid Correio da Manhã maintains Alexandre was banking on.

But he failed, and the failure has now “opened up a new war among the magistrature”, writes CM this morning.

Alexandre basically was the first one to blink. He has had to agree to using €1.5 million of Salgado’s money used to post bail over Monte Branco to cover bail for “Universe Espírito Santo”.
Had he refused to do this, Alexandre could have run into constitutional problems, explains CM, as “no-one without assets can be obliged to post bail”.

The paper stresses this morning, however, that “one thing is certain, the authorities are still looking for properties (owned by Salgado) in other countries, like Brazil”.

Salgado’s position as a formal suspect in both Monte Branco and Universo Espirito Santo sees him facing allegations of fiscal fraud, money laundering, falsification of documents, IT fraud, corruption “and other crimes”, reports Diário de Notícias.

His release comes in a week that Transparency International is calling on people to vote for the worst cases of corruption this year, BES’ included.