Essential Business

Pandora Papers – who’s on the list from Portugal?

 In Corruption, News, Tax

Just three Portuguese politicians are among the hundreds of international names cited in the Pandora Papers – the largest ever investigation into offshore tax havens.

The investigation has exposed business deals and stashed fortunes involving three former politicians: Manuel Pinho, Nuno Morais Sarmento and Vitalino Canas. Each one is involved for different reasons.
According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Nuno Morais Sarmento, current vice-president of the centre-right PSD party, was a beneficiary of an offshore registered in the British Virgin Islands. Sarmento is the only Portuguese politician who is politically active to appear on the list.
According to Expresso, Morais Sarmento explained that he used an offshore to invest in Mozambique with Portuguese and Mozambican friends to “realise a dream”.
He told Expresso that he had to use a tax haven given the limitations in Mozambique regarding the holding and transfer of properties and companies by overseas citizens.
Manuel Pinho, the ex-minister of the Economy under the PS socialist government of José Sócrates (in the left of the photo), is linked to three offshore accounts which are already known because of a prior case involving EDP.
Pinho is a legal defendant or ‘arguido’ in the case concerning excessive rents at the electricity giant which has been going on for eight years. The Public Ministry (Prosecutor’s Office) suspects that the former minster of the Economy and Innovation may have received €1 million between 2006 and 2012 from a Grupo Espírito Santo company turn a blind eye.
In 2012, Manuel Pinho benefitted from a tax amnesty. Two years prior in 2010, he purchased an apartment in the centre of New York via a then recently set-up offshore BlackWade.
The former government minister told Expresso that he was being “totally transparent” and reiterated “I have no income to declare to any tax authorities, wherever they might be”.
The property he purchased was said to have cost around €1 million and was allegedly bought with his monthly retainer fee received from Grupo Espírito Santo (GES) in June 2010.
The third name that appears on the Pandora Papers has never been and is not a beneficiary of any offshore bank accounts or companies.
Former Socialist Party MP appears in the investigation because in 2012 he received a legal authorisation to act in the name of a company registered on the British Virgin Islands. He was authorised to use, transfer and set up accounts in any part of the world, something he was legally entitled to do when he was still a Portuguese MP.
Vitalino Canas told the Expresso investigation “the identification of clients (…) and the possible existence of acts of proxy for carrying out certain acts was not subject to registration with the Portuguese Parliament in the public interest”.
In what is the largest investigation undertaken by the Consortium of International Journalists, hundreds of billionaires and politicians — including former Prime Minister Tony Blair, the prime minister of the Czech Republic, Andrej Babis, the King of Jordan Abdullah II and the presidents of Ecuador, Kenya and Gabon.


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