Salgado hid two offshore companies that paid illicit ‘performance bonuses’
The network of offshore companies attached to Grupo Espírito Santo has been laid bare in an internal document issued in 2008 by the group’s financial controller, José Castella.
The sprawling, but deeply flawed empire controlled by Ricardo Espírito Santo controlled 65 offshore companies and had stakes in 429 companies across the world. But two offshores companies were left off the list.
A document being used in the Operation Marquês inquiry, shows an Espírito Santo Group organisational chart that was sent by the financial controller to another employee of the group, Filipe Brás, with the knowledge of accountant Francisco Machado da Cruz.
When the worldwide recession started in 2008, the group controlled a network of offshore companies which, although not illegal, served to hide the identity of the owners and kept hidden any financial operations that need to be concealed from the Portuguese treasury.
The official GES organisation chart, which was seized during the searches at GES offices in Switzerland, fails to list two companies that soon became the focus of the Central Department of Investigation and Criminal Action.
The first is Espírito Santo Enterprises, the company used to pay ‘performance bonuses’ to a select few without the taxman knowing. The second was Pinsong, another company used to channel funds to ‘useful’ third parties.
These two companies were based in the British Virgin Islands, as were 90% of the other companies controlled by Salgado with others in the Cayman Islands, (7) the Bahamas (2) and and one in Panama.
This intricate and secret network has hampered criminal investigators who have had to send requests and letters rogatory to the various financial authorities in each jurisdiction to enable them to track illicit payments that the recipients would rather have remained private.
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