Adriano Correio Cardoso proudly receiving his award last month in the presence of President Marcelo
The official photo of Adriano Correio Cardoso proudly receiving his award last month in the presence of President Marcelo. Photo: Presidencia da República

President Marcelo ‘decorates’ businessman who owes €2 million in tax

It’s a “very complicated situation”, admits Adriano Correia Cardoso

With PCP communists up in arms over President Marcelo’s decision to ‘decorate’ Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, it seems Portugal’s head of State has also decorated a businessman with tax debts of over €1 million.

Porto restaurateur Adriano Correio Cardoso has reportedly told journalists that he believes his debts are more like €2 million.

It’s a “very complicated situation”, he admits. But affirms it is also being resolved. “I always pay my debts”, he told Correio da Manhã.

The debt in question, says the paper, results from an inspection by the tax authorities into ‘income and money movements in the private bank accounts of the businessman between 2009-2012’ – long before the ‘good deeds’ that earned him his recent honour.

“In this inspection, the tax authority concluded that the businessman and his wife obtained a capital increase of €4.67 million which is not consistent with the net income declared for the taxation years under review (2009 – 2012), and which should therefore have been taxed under IRS, as an expression of wealth”.

Mr Cardoso meantime, who owns a number of restaurants in Porto, has said that the situation arises from “lack of (tax) management understanding (…) I was making a circuit: the money passed through my personal account, but was reinvested in the businesses”.

Adriano Correio Cardoso’s honour – the medal of the Order of Merit, which CM incidentally describes as “the lowest grade of this Order” – was nominated for his award by the Council of the Order. It follows the help his restaurants gave Porto’s Hospital de São João during the pandemic. Indeed an official source for the presidency has confirmed: “Sr Adriano Cardoso was honoured with the Medal of the Order of Merit following a proposal by the Council of the Order, based on information transmitted by a personality of Porto, a university professor and hospital director”.

Confronted by the ‘very complicated situation’, Belém Palace is reported to have said: “The President of the Republic will verify if there is any legal impediment relating to the matter of conceding the decoration”.

The whole issue of honours ‘followed by embarrassments’ is not new, but honours tend only to be withdrawn if those holding them are condemned in a court of law. Thus former State bank director and politician Armando Vara lost his Order of Infante, conceded by Jorge Sampaio, following his condemnation for the trafficking of influences in Face Oculta; former television personality Carlos Cruz and former ambassador Jorge Ritto lost dual Orders of Infante D. Henrique after being condemned in the long-running case into pedophilia known as Casa Pia. But twice decorated businessman José ‘Joe’ Berardo, currently on the second highest bail ever set in Portugal, remains with his honours still intact as his situation has not yet reached any kind of conclusion.

As for Adriano Cardoso, accounts suggest he went way beyond the call of duty as a restaurateur in ensuring tens of thousands of meals to staff at São João hospital during the pandemic. He even sent round cakes and hot ‘pastéis de nata’.

With this story now being picked up by other news sources, a columnist has remarked on how trust-based the honours process appears to be. It only takes someone socially respected to suggest a candidate, and then it ‘only takes’ acceptance of that suggestion.

“In the end, all that is needed is to consult the list of debtors”, writer CM’s editorial director general Eduardo Dâmaso, quipping “there’s no need for a questionnaire with more than 30 questions”, in reference to the new mechanism brought in to weed out any unsatisfactory incoming members of government.

This is not the only honour ‘in the headlines’ this weekend: PCP communists have reacted to President Marcelo’s decision to honour Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy on the passing of one year under Russian invasion, saying the decision is an “affront”, honouring a man who “embodies xenophobic, warmongering and anti-democratic power”.

PCP communists have never ascribed to the understanding, shared by the West, that Russian invaded a sovereign country. Even their short statement of “indignation” describes Mr Zelenskyy as being “surrounded and sustained by fascist and Nazi forces”.

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