Manuel Pinho giving evidence at a parliamentary hearing on the CMEC 'scandal' in the company of his lawyer, Ricardo Sá Fernandes

Former economy minister back in financial doldrums

Pension ‘restored’ is once again ‘taken away’

Manuel Pinho – former PS economy minister under José Sócrates and under house arrest following the highest bail surety ever imposed in Portugal – has heard this week that the ‘good news’ that he could once again receive his €26,500 monthly pension has turned to dust.

According to Correio da Manhã, the decision by Lisbon’s Court of Appeal to release Mr Pinho’s  sizeable pension was overturned by judge Carlos Alexandre on the basis that the money is “the product of a corruptive pact”, celebrated between former BES boss Ricardo Salgado (also under house arrest) and Mr Pinho in the days when the latter was minister of the economy.

This contention follows “new information” received by Judge Alexandre, explains CM.

Public prosecutors Carlos Casimiro and Hugo Neto uncovered “suspicious operations”, the details of which were only recently passed to the financial information unit of PJ judicial police.

These operations showed more than €2 million being moved “in a questionable manner” to destinations controlled by the two men “the majority of them outside national territory”.

With this new information, Judge Alexandre “ordered the seizure of not just part but the totality of Pinho’s pension, reverting the decision of the Lisbon Appeal Court which last month ordered the return to the ex-minister of all money already apprehended”.

Manuel Pinho has been ‘in the frame’ for alleged financial corruption for years. And for most of those years stories have periodically appeared to say this is (another) investigation that ‘may end up in the lake’, due to the time it is taking to get matters to the trial stage.

Like so many other ‘mega cases’ constantly discussed in the press, this may end up being nothing more than elaborate (if not laborious) theatre on which judicial time limits will permanently bring down the curtain.

Meantime, however, Mr Pinho is not being given much in the way of concessions. He has even been forbidden from tending a vegetable patch outside the limit of his electronic ankle tag.

Defence lawyer Ricardo Sá Fernandes has already said that in his opinion the way in which his client has been treated constitutes “a serious abuse of power”.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com