Judges cited in corruption investigation go on attack

Guilty Portuguese bankers slapped with new jail terms

Former bankers of BPP – the Banco Privado Português which collapsed in 2009 taking with it €41 million of clients’ money – have heard today that they ‘must all go to prison’ for crimes of fiscal fraud, money-laundering and abuse of confidence.

The reality is however that they will all almost certainly stay out of prison contesting these latest charges – as some of them have been doing with other condemnations that have come their way over the years (click here).

Nonetheless, national media reports that João Rendeiro (the former president of the bank) and three former directors (at least one of which is in Brazil and unlikely to be extradited) have all been ‘made an example of’.

Says SIC, the presiding judge at Lisbon’s Central Criminal Court “said “the facts are serious” and the community would not understand if the men weren’t given jail terms”.

The prosecution’s case that Rendeiro and his former directors (Fezas Vital, Paulo Guichard and Fernando Lima) plundered €31,280 million for their own personal use was accepted by the court.

“João Rendeiro took €13,613 million for himself, Salvador Fezas Vital €7,770 million, António Paulo Guichard €7,703 million and Fernando Lima €2,193 million”, reports SIC.

The jail terms are thus proportionate: 10 years for Rendeiro, nine for Fezas Vital and Guichard and six for Fernando Lima.

But the impact of today’s decision is somewhat reduced when one considers that the defendants have already been found guilty on other charges relating to this scandal, and almost all of them have done nothing by way of atonement other than appeal.

Expresso reports that this is a decision “of the first instance”, meaning it can be contested. And while it is contested the defendants will remain at the liberty they have enjoyed since the bank collapsed.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com