Public Ministry calling for 10-year jail sentence for ex-banker

 In Banks, Justice, News

Portugal’s public ministry is to push for a 10-year custodial sentence for the former banking tycoon Ricardo Salgado who presided over the fall of Portugal’s oldest and most respected bank, Banco Espírito Santo in 2014.

Calling him “patently selfish, and showing “a lack of remorse” and “persistent criminal behaviour” Salgado has been accused by the Public Ministry of “appropriating €10.7 million from the sphere of the Grupo Espírito Santo banking group.
The man who is widely quoted as saying “I own the whole lot” about the banking empire he ran for 22 years, went before the court for the first time in person standing trial for his part in the Operation Marquês case in which the final allegations from the Public Ministry and defence will be heard.
The defence lawyers are calling for Ricardo Salgado to be absolved and has criticised the Public Ministry for calling for such a long prison sentence.
“In face of documentary and witness evidence, if the rules of democratic penal processes are applied, the trial can only be concluded with an acquittal of Ricardo Salgado”, said his defence lawyer, Francisco Proença de Carvalho during the closing statements underway at Lisbon Central Criminal Court” on Tuesday.
At the same time, the lawyer also pointed out the Alzheimer’s diagnosis which the 77-year-old banker’s doctors say he suffers from.
To demand a custodial sentence “for an individual with a proven medical condition” for Ricardo Salgado is to “ask for something that goes against decency and humanitarianism”, he said, adding “The Public Ministry pretends that it doesn’t know about Ricardo Salgado’s condition, discarding everything that is contained in jurisprudence and humanism in the Portuguese State of Law”.
In court for the first time, the ex-BES boss had not been in any of the eight previous court hearings because of a legal waiver granted because of Covid-19.
Operation Marquês is a landmark case in Portugal because it involved the imprisonment of a former prime minister of Portugal, José Sócrates and charges of corruption, tax fraud, falsifying documents, and money laundering.
The Public Ministry accusation — drawn up by seven prosecutors and composed of 11 volumes (5,036 pages), 14,084 segments of fact and 189 crimes — had sustained that José Sócrates “received around €34 million between 2006 and 2015 (while he was prime minister) in return for favouring the interests of Ricardo Salgado at the Espírito Santo Group (GES) and at Portugal Telecom (PT), as well as guaranteeing the concession of finance by State Bank Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD) for the Vale do Lobo tourism and golf development in the Algarve (now in different hands), and for favouring business deals, namely outside the country, of (construction) Group Lena”.
Ricardo Salgado was made a legal defendant in the case, accused of active corruption of a holder of a political office (José Sócrates), active corruption, capital laundering, abuse of trust, document falsification, and qualified tax fraud. He has always denied bribing the former prime minister.
On 9 April 2021, a judge threw out all of the corruption accusations against José Sócrates on grounds of lack of evidence, because the time limit to bing the case to trial had expired. However, José Sócrates will still stand trial for three crimes of money laundering and falsifying documents, and on the 21 September the Public Ministry admitted the time to bring these charges to court might well expire too.