Game show hostess Teresa Guilherme is shining another uncomfortable spotlight on the BES scandal with a law case that sets the situation out in bite-sized chunks, describing it as a Ponzi scheme of the very worst kind.
In fact, Guilherme’s €2.35 million civil case compares former BES boss Ricardo Salgado to the famous Portuguese fraudster of the 80s, Dona Branca (who actually looked like a harmless old lady).
It is just one of thousands of legal challenges, but thanks to Guilherme’s national standing (she is on the telly practically every day), it might push authorities towards actually doing something about the so-called BES investigation that has had Salgado and countless others ‘under suspicion’ for over two years and still living, for all intents and purposes, in the lap of luxury.
Guilherme’s defence highlights what it calls a clear case of qualified fiscal fraud.
The TV personality is claiming €2.35 million which she had invested in “commercial paper” in the Espírito Santo Group of companies (GES).
The money was in Banque Privée Espírito Santo, based in Switzerland, and invested by Espírito Santo International (ESI), writes tabloid Correio da Manhã.
Guilherme’s action is against Salgado, BES, Haitong Bank (formerly BESI) and the former ESAF (Espírito Santo Activos Financeiros), explains the paper.
Between them, these “created and executed a fraudulent scheme of rotating debt with the view of financial losses to various companies within GES”, says Guilherme’s defence.
“In general terms, the debt rotation (often generically described as a Ponzi scheme) allowed ESI and its affiliates to obtain significant funds through the emission of debt securities,” added the lawyers who have explained that what transpired was clearly “illicit enrichment through a fraudulent scheme of finance”.
Thus, the question “why is the BES case taking so long?” is now firmly back in the public eye – just as questions stack up over the lack of conclusion in Operation Marquês (also well over two years old), Operation Labyrinth (golden visas) and any number of other cases of alleged institutional corruption.