Judge Ivo Rosa. Image: Mário Cruz/ Lusa

Ivo Rosa no longer judge for BES/GES case

Breaking news this afternoon concerns the fact that judge Ivo Rosa is no longer in charge of the BES/ GES ‘megacase’ on alleged banking corruption.

The controversial judge – known for rejecting evidence lodged by public prosecutors – had exclusive responsibility for the case, which has yet to reach a courtroom (even though the ‘facts’ took place over eight years ago…)

The case will now be put in the hands of an auxiliary judge, who will have to read through the thousands of pages of evidence before advancing. All the time the clock on ‘judicial time limits’ will be ticking.

What led to this development will be explained in more detail over the coming hours – but none of it can be ‘good’, bearing in mind the fear of so many people who lost fortunes in the fall of BES has always been that they may never be fully-compensated, or see justice done.

Breaking the news this afternoon, SIC noticias stresses Judge Rosa “was promoted to the Lisbon Court of Appeal, but his promotion has been suspended while a disciplinary process is underway”.

The BES/ GES case has been described as “the most complex criminal inquiry in the history of Portuguese investigation“.

It has been successively thwarted from moving towards a trial while its principal defendant is said to be suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and in no position to answer any questions, or indeed any of the charges.

Adding to the surreality of this afternoon’s news, ECO online explains that the judge ‘taking over’ this ‘mega case’, Pedro dos Santos Correia, is a ‘junior judge’ with only three years experience… (SIC actually suggests Pedro dos Santos has only two years’ experience).

ECO adds that it was the Superior Council of Magistrature that “took the case from Ivo Rosa’s hands”.

Judge Rosa is expected to remain attached to the Central Court of Criminal Instruction for the time being, as he is still overseeing the Octapharma case – another major case involving alleged institutional corruption that has seemingly been stuck in judicial mud for years.

What is the dimension of the BES case?

This is the question posed and answered by ECO this afternoon: “BES/ GES has 30 defendants (23 people and seven companies), with a total of 361 crimes. It is considered one of the largest cases in Portuguese justice, bringing together 242 inquiries that have been annexed to the main case, and complaints by more than 300 people, individuals and collectives, resident in Portugal and abroad.

“According to the Public Ministry (public prosecutors), whose accusations fill around 4,000 pages, the fall of the Espírito Santo Group (GES) in 2014 caused damages of more than €11.8 million.

The central figure in this investigation is Ricardo Salgado, the former leader of BES, accused of 65 crimes: criminal association (1), qualified fraud (29), active corruption (12), money laundering (7), document falsification (9), infidelity (5) and market manipulation (2).

The case is “made up of 767 volumes, among principal proceedings, arrests, opposition incidents, banking appendices and 171 volumes of main proceedings processed up to the date of distribution in 687,398 sheets. Plus all banking, search and miscellaneous attachments (more than 200) and computer equipment seized. The indictment has 3,552 sheets, signed by seven prosecutors”.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com