Votes encouraged to “unmask corruption” at BES

Portugal’s BES banking scandal is on a list drawn up to “unmask” the “world’s worst” when it comes to corruption, and get people to vote for their preferences.

Created by Transparency International – the same group that earlier this week said Portugal was the NATO member with the most “elevated risks of corruption” (click here) – the 15-strong shortlist is designed to “stop grand corruption” and get governments “to act and stop this disease”.

“The name of ‘Espírito Santo’ means ‘holy spirit’ in Portuguese, but this so-named conglomerate, one of the largest in Portugal, has allegedly made some very unholy alliances, bringing it under investigation for fraud, corruption and money laundering,” says TI, calling the scandal “one of Europe’s largest corporate meltdowns”.

“Published reports allege that the Salgado’s family conglomerate had for years over-inflated and leveraged the value of BES, sometimes reportedly into the family’s own pockets,” the global movement explains, stressing that the government-backed bailout which led to the creation of Novo Banco “cost taxpayers €5 billion”.

TI adds that “criminal investigations into this ‘mega case’ have just begun,” and that “the inquiry being launched in Portugal is expected to call 92 witnesses and review over 58,000 pages of written evidence”.

The bank’s collapse in the summer of 2014 was not the first time BES had shown signs that all was not as it should be, TI stress, citing a number of cases in which there were suspicions of foul play.

Today (Thursday, December 10), the scandal is the 7th most-voted case of corruption with 33 votes – a number likely to increase exponentionally now that national media has a hold of the story.

Also on the list is the scandal involving Brazil’s state-controlled oil giant Petrobras – under investigation for “bribery, kickbacks and money laundering reportedly worth over US$2 billion”, as are the business dealings of Isabel dos Santos, daughter of Angola’s president and reportedly the richest woman in Africa.

Santos is on the list because “people have questioned whether merit was indeed the route Isabel took to become the richest woman in Africa”, explains TI.

For now, the top voted corruption case is that involving Dominican Republic Senator Felix Bautista, who allegedly “enriched himself with millions in state funds”.

Voting is now open until February 9 at www.unmaskthecorrupt.org

“Together we can make decision-makers understand the urgency to act and stop the corrupt from getting away with it,” reads TI’s website.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com