European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France

Portuguese State has no obligation to indemnify BES victims

European Court of Human Rights puts cherry on the cake of victims’ misery

The Portuguese State does not have to indemnify victims of the BES banking fraud that caused so much heartache and misery seven years ago, and whose alleged perpetrators have still not been tried in a court of law.

This is the upshot of a decision published this week by the European Court of Human Rights.

Reports explain that even though clients of the bank (the bulk of them Portuguese emigrés living abroad) were sold financial products that the banking entity presented as safe (when they were not), states are under “no obligation to cover the debts of private entities”.

In this particular situation – which referred to a Portuguese pensioner living in Germany who lost his life savings after being persuaded to invest in BES financial products – the judges considered the resolution of BES by the Bank of Portugal struck “a fair balance between public interest and property rights”.

The pensioner’s lawsuit was rejected, meaning any other former BES clients can expect the same outcome.

As comments over social media have stressed, this is just another bad day for people who have endured more than their fair share of bad days over the last nine years.

Said one: “The court decided badly. Now emigrés have only one solution – not to send any more savings to banks in Portugal, because the banks here are not credible, they are not serious. This will happen again. Emigrés beware, don’t be stupid”.

The BES/ GES case originally centred on 30 ‘arguidos’ / official suspects: 23 people – the most notorious being former ‘boss of all this’ within the empire Ricardo Salgado who is now said to be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease – and seven businesses. This number has since been whittled down to 23 people and three businesses.

Considered one of the largest cases in the history of Portuguese justice, it involves over 242 inquiries within the main case and complaints from more than 300 people, individuals and legal entities, resident in Portugal and abroad.

According to the Public Prosecutor, whose indictment ran to around four thousand pages, the collapse of the Espírito Santo Group (GES) in 2014 caused losses of over €11.8 billion euros.

The case is now in the hands of judge Pedro Santos Correia – described over a year ago as a junior judge “with only three years experience”.

Since that time, he has been in the news ‘refuting’ claims that he is incompetent to handle the case. And then earlier this month, the judge was given until March 31 to conclude the ‘pre-trial hearing’.

As it was explained at the time, the situation is now ‘urgent’ as the Statute of Limitations on a number of the alleged crimes is close to running out.

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