Lloyds CEO says former economy minister should face corruption grilling 

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The CEO of Lloyds Bank says that Manuel Pinho, a former minister of the Economy, should appear before parliamentary enquiries to clarify what payments, if any, he got from the Espírito Santo Group (GES) in return for contracts favouritism to energy company EDP.


António Horta Osório said it is “unacceptable for a person who represented the country at the highest government level as Minister of the Economy to refuse to give a public account of himself to the Portuguese on whether or not he received quantities of money from the Espírito Santo Group [GES) or another company while serving as a government minister.”

The Lloyds Bank CEO made his comments on the sidelines of a conference ‘Economic Perspectives for Portugal and the Euro Zone – Challenges of Brexit’ which took place in Lisbon this week. 

He said that it was a “clear question that that should be answered in an unequivocal manner” and that the “Portuguese deserved an answer.”

The Portugal Public Ministry believes following investigations that Manuel Pinho may have received €3.5 million in backhanders in the “Blue Bag” (Saco Azul) affair from GES, €1 million more than had been ascertained. The corruption affair involved some Portugal’s most powerful business leaders and was a factor in the fall of the Espírito Santo bank group in 2015.

According to an investigation by weekly newspaper Expresso, the former minister, who is now teaching economics at a Chinese university institution, received the cash via his offshore company Tartaruga Foundation – €460,000 in July 2003 and a further €500,000 in May 2005 from the offshore company Espírito Santo Enterprises (ES).

In question is more than €960,000 that was discovered by the Public Ministry in EDP files and is added to the €2.1 million about which investigators already know. The information has been added to the EDP corruption case in which Manuel Pinho is a legal defendant. 

The Portuguese State attorneys dealing with the EDP case have discovered through information received and based on Espírito Santo files, €3.5 million that was transferred to ES Enterprises to open bank accounts at the Banque Privée Espírito Santo from two offshores belonging to Manuel Pinho (Tartaruga Foundation and Masete II) in the British Virgin Islands.

The favouritism shown to EDP involved contracts worth €2.5Bn over 10 years and are now being scrutinised by Parliament and the Public Ministry.