As the labyrinthine Marquês investigation into multiple layers of alleged institutional corruption nears its end, a new VIP has been named “arguido”. The former BES ‘boss-of-all-this Ricardo Salgado is now an arguido in three major cases of suspected financial skullduggery: Monte Branco, BES and Marquês – the case made all the more famous for its lynchpin, former prime minister José Sócrates.
Salgado was officially made an arguido this afternoon after being questioned in the company of his lawyer at the Lisbon headquarters of the department of criminal investigation and penal action (DCIAP).
A statement from the Attorney General’s office said the former head of BES is “suspected of practices that could be construed as crimes of corruption, abuse of confidence, the trafficking of influences, money-laundering and qualified fiscal fraud”.
Salgado faces similar accusations in Monte Branco and BES, and is currently on bail after posting €3 million to secure his continued liberty.
That liberty remains with this latest situation, but Salgado is prohibited from talking to Sócrates and any other of Marquês’ many defendants, and he must stay in this country unless given specific permission from the Public Ministry to absent himself.
According to Jornal de Notícias, the reason for today’s developments follows “suspicions that the former president of BES gave orders, through Portuguese-Angolan businessman Hélder Bataglia (connected to the Espírito Santo Group) to transfer 12 million euros from Panamanian offshore company ES Enterprises destined, in the final instance, for Carlos Santos Silva, who the Public Ministry contends was acting as a ‘front man’ for the former prime minister”.
Diario de Notícias however has a slightly higher take on the news, saying the “Public Ministry has suspicions about the money found in Carlos Santos Silva’s accounts” and thinks that “more than 17 million euros originated from links to the Espírito Santo Group” – while Observador website puts the figure at more like 20 million euros.
Whichever media outlet is correct, one can be sure that tomorrow’s Correio da Manhã will have even more ‘details’. The ‘people’s paper’ has been serialising its view of the Marquês case for the two-plus years it has been running, incurring all kinds of judicial backlashes from Sócrates’ defence team.
DN nonetheless gives a ‘tally so far’ on this extraordinary investigation that is finally due to come to its conclusion in March: Among the 19 arguidos are former Socialist minister Armando Vara (also fighting a jail term for trafficking of influences in the Face Oculta trial), CEO of Vale do Lobo resort in the Algarve Diogo Gaspar Ferreira, Joaquim Barroca of the Lena Group, Paulo Lalanda Castro of Octapharma (and a key suspect in the so-called ‘blood mafia’ investigation), lawyer Gonçalo Trindade Ferreira and businessman Rui Mão de Ferro.