Novo Banco 1.jpg

Novo Bank directors caught up in latest multi-million business corruption scandal

Portuguese bankers representing Novo Banco at former BES Banco Internacional de Cabo Verde (BICV) have been swept up in the latest DCIAP investigation into suspected business corruption on a vast scale involving the brother of former PSD prime minister Pedro Santana Lopes and a former football promoter, José Viega.

Rui Guerra and António Duarte are suspected of having passed on privileged information to Viega so that he could purchase BICV
under “the best possible conditions”, writes Expresso.

As investigations continue – with Viega now in preventive custody, and Paulo Santana Lopes under house arrest after posting a million euros in bail – the Bank of Portugal has found itself embroiled in the affair due to the fact that its Resolution Fund is the entity that effectively created Novo Banco.

The Resolution Fund has nonetheless told reporters that it has neither the “competence nor the powers” to evaluate the correctness of the sale by Novo Banco to Viega.

Questions to the Bank of Portugal have also fallen on stony ground, writes negocios online, stressing that it is the central bank that “has to pronounce on operations and is responsible for defining who has the competence to be a banker”.

For now the Bank of Portugal is remaining silent, though Observador claims it is “analysing the necessary legal arguments to oppose the deal and stop the sale of BICV to the consortium led by José Viega”.

Thus, Portugal’s media has a new business scandal to get its teeth into involving “many millions laundered through Brazil, Switzerland and Portugal” affirms Expresso, all of it thought to have originated in the Republic of the Congo.

Operation “Rota de Atlântico”, as the investigation is being called, is probing “indications of international corruption connected to the activity of diverse Portuguese and international commercial companies operating in the African country”, explains Observador – for the time being not revealing the number of millions of euros/ dollars thought to be involved in deals encompasing public works, civil construction projects and business from oil.

The only figures revealed this far appear to be the €11 million lodged with Novo Banco by Viega as a downpayment on BIVC, writes Observador, and the €8 million in cash found in a safe in the basement of Santana Lopes’ Quinta da Marinha home, in Cascais.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com