Ricardo Salgado wins on appeal – Bank of Portugal ‘unreasonable and disproportionate’
The Competition, Regulation and Supervision Court (TCRS) in Santarém has overturned a case brought by the Bank of Portugal against Ricardo Salgado and Amílcar Pires of BES whom it claimed had mismanaged things, leading to a lack of money laundering and terrorist financing prevention measures at overseas BES operations in Angola, Cape Verde, Miami and Macao.
The former BES president Ricardo Salgado and former BES administrator Amílcar Pires alleged their rights had been breached during the legal procedure.
The case, which had led to the conviction of Ricardo Salgado who was fined €350,000 – and of Amílcar Morais Pires who was fined €150,000 – was appealed by the two defendants but not by António Souto, who had been handed down a fine of €60,000 and seemed OK with it, or could not afford to pay for an appeal.
Judge Sérgio Martins de Sousa declared that the prosecution and all the subsequent proceedings are null and void, and that the Bank of Portugal should now drop the case.
“The defendants, who appeared in court on May 30th, about a month after the Bank of Portugal’s decision to prosecute was known, argued that they had only 30 working days to file a defence and were faced with supporting prosecution evidence that was seven volumes long with more than 2,000 pages, 36 attachments with a further 11,000 pages and 32 digital files – all of which was in a jumble to make it hard to work out what was important and what was padding.
“In order to enable the right of defence, the Bank of Portugal would have to present the evidence in a systematic, coherent and organised way, so that the defendants’ analysis of the case could proceed and lead to a complete understanding of the existing evidence,” added the judge, continuing, “one can not ask for the fulfilment of the unreasonable and disproportionate, while at the same time pursuing Herculean diligences.”
At issue was the failure of the BES directors to send in the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing reports for the years 2012 and 2013. They claimed it was impossible to get access to the information from the BES banking subsidiary in Angola, “whether for legal reasons or due to the deliberate non-cooperation of BES-Angola.”
In the case of the Macao, Miami and Cape Verde, the initial convictions were brought about as the overseas staff had not been trained to produce the necessary reports.
This is yet another blow to the Bank of Portugal’s governor, Carlos Costa, whose underwhelming job performance has been littered with expensive mistakes. By snowing under those it sought to prosecute, the Bank of Portugal has committed another legal blunder to the detriment of taxpayers.
The Bank of Portugal has access to unlimited legal advice but the sloppy, or deliberatly confusing, presentation of the legal case aginst these bankers has led to Pires and Salgado avoiding censure for serious shortcomings.
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