“Super judge” leads new raids on 34 homes of BES executives

“Super judge” leads new raids on 34 homes of BES executives

Fresh from an intense weekend interrogating Portugal’s former prime minister José Sócrates and finally remanding him in preventive custody at Évora jail, “super judge” Carlos Alexandre (pictured) has been kept on his toes, overseeing a mega police swoop on 41 locations in the capital – at least 34 of them reported to be homes of key players – connected with investigations into systemic corruption that led to the collapse of Banco Espírito Santo.
As the tenet of Portugal’s secrecy of Justice seems to have gone by the board, the lawyer representing BES boss Ricardo Salgado commented yesterday afternoon as he left his client’s luxury home in Cascais, “at this point journalists always know more than lawyers”.
Thus it depends on what newspapers people read as to how they are becoming informed.
Suffice it to say that searches led by the PJ’s unit for the combat of corruption began early on Thursday morning, and were still ongoing as darkness fell.
Carlos Alexandre – lauded as the great white hope of the justice system, and only two weeks ago focused on rounding-up suspected corruption within the Golden Visa programme – was reported to have accompanied the operation at the headquarters of the institution that has now been reborn as Novo Banco, while representatives of the Public Prosecutor, the department of criminal investigation (DCIAP), the tax authority (Autoridade Tributária) and as many as 200 police officers searched a selection of homes and offices, including those of BES boss Salgado (on €3 million bail already as part of a related investigation into corruption, money-laundering and fraud), Amílcar Morais Pires – BES former financial administrator – and Isabel Almeida, the former director of financial markets for Grupo Espírito Santo.
According to reports emerging at the end of the day, this new police thrust was focused on suspicions that all three were involved in a scheme to hide debts from BES clients in Portugal and Switzerland.
But the fact is that this new investigation was prompted by whistle blowing back in September. Thus fears persist that Thursday’s operation may have come a few weeks too far down the line.
For example, in Correio da Manhã this morning, it is revealed that at the point where the Banco de Portugal “decided to intervene” in BES, Ricardo Salgado was found to have “only €180,000 on deposit”.
Considering he is now on bail for €3 million, this suggests much was achieved behind the scenes before bank regulators moved in.