Since his “shocking rudeness” in parliament last week (click here) the country has been reeling over the sheer audacity of a man who appears to think unpaid loans he negotiated – of almost a billion euros – have very little to do with him personally.
Joe Berardo’s laughter and smiles have pushed buttons in the nation’s psyche that he may not have bargained for.
One leading political figure has gone so far as to describe him as an “authentic vampire”.
Certainly the favoured image coming out of the parliamentary showdown was of a smile reminiscent of the Harry Potter villain Lord Voldemort.
Indeed, political commentator José Pacheco Pereira has said it’s not so much Berardo’s ‘national honours’ that he would like to see removed now, but his smile.
For the time being, the Council of National Orders is working on the honours – and President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has reportedly said he sees no reason to oppose their removal.
Berardo was given the Order of the Infante, by then president Ramalho Eanes, back in 1985. He went on to receive the Grand Cross of the same order in 2004, courtesy of president Jorge Sampaio.
Says Público, it will be totally unprecedented for someone to have their honours removed without any kind of condemnation through the courts – and even this isn’t automatic, as we saw recently in the case of Cristiano Ronaldo (click here).
But there is a clause enshrined in the law surrounding honours that stipulates that those bestowed with them must behave with “virtue and honour”.
Público agrees it is quite possible Berardo’s behaviour – before the inquiry into State Bank CGD (and its enormous debts) – “might not be considered as virtuous or honourable”.
Meantime, there could be even more in store.
Luís Leite Ramos – president of the parliamentary commission that heard Berardo – has asked for an urgent transcript of everything Berardo said so that he can send it to the Public Prosecutor’s Office “in order to evaluate the existence of indications of crime”.
Tomorrow should at least bring an update on the honours. Manuela Ferreira Leite, former finance minister and president of the Council of National Honours has convened an extraordinary meeting to discuss their removal, scheduled for the afternoon.
Another broadside has come from gourmet Lisbon outlet BacoAlto which has announced over Facebook that it has withdrawn from sale all wines produced by companies where Berardo is a shareholder ( wines produced by the firms “Bacalhoa, Sogrape and Quinta do Carmo, among others…”).
BacoAlto’s António Albuquerque told journalists, “we have every reason to believe that the wines of these companies are good. The shareholder is the one that leaves much to be desired”.
The sentiment is being shared widely over social media where Jornal i reports thousands have shared calls to boycott all wines associated with Joe Berardo.