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The former Portuguese banker Ricardo Salgado, from owner of everything to criminal mastermind | Economy

The Portuguese banker Ricardo Salgado (Cascais, 77 years old) was nicknamed in his country as DDT (Dono Disto Tudonamely, owner of all this) until June 2014, when he was removed from the management of Banco Espírito Santo. Eight years later he begins to be the condemned for all that. The Central Criminal Court has just imposed a sentence of six years in prison for three crimes of breach of trust, considering it proven that he appropriated 10.6 million euros from one of the companies of the Espírito Santo Group (GES) through three transfers made to companies offshore. The judges have not believed in the innocence of the banker who, before the investigation commission opened in the Portuguese Parliament after the collapse of the empire of the Espírito Santo clan in 2014, assured that neither he nor anyone in the family had taken a euro from the group nor open accounts in tax havens.

In the sentence known this week, however, it is declared as proven facts that Salgado diverted 10.6 million euros from the company Espírito Santo Enterprises, considered the “blue bag” that fueled the irregularities in the GES, for accounts opened in Panama. that he controlled. In addition, his passport has been withdrawn and he is prohibited from leaving the country without authorization. The Portuguese justice is thus trying to avoid the embarrassment it suffered last year with the escape of another banker, João Rendeiro, who fled to South Africa taking advantage of the permissiveness that the courts gave him to travel despite accumulating several convictions. His escape lasted almost three months and, after being arrested in Durban, he remains in a South African prison waiting for the extradition request about him to be resolved.

The judges who have sentenced Salgado also consider it proven that he suffers from Alzheimer’s, an argument that his defense used, unsuccessfully, to request the suspension of the trial and that will help prevent his entry into prison if he finally adds new sentences. This has been Ricardo Salgado’s first criminal conviction and is related to Operation Marqués, the corruption scandal that affected the main centers of power in Portugal. In addition to Salgado, the former socialist prime minister, José Sócrates, would end up arrested. This macroprocess has been divided into several independent procedures to speed up its resolution. The first conviction was issued last June for the former minister and former administrator of the Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Armando Vara. The second has been that of Salgado. Hearings against three other defendants, including Socrates, are pending.

In recent years, Salgado has also been administratively sanctioned for violating money laundering prevention regulations and transparency rules that harmed the interests of Banco Espírito Santo’s clients. In February the Court of Competition, Regulation and Supervision issued the most recent, which condemns him to pay two million euros for eight infractions.

However, the great judicial process for the collapse of the Espírito Santo Group is still far from reaching the oral hearing, despite the fact that almost eight years have passed since then. On February 21, the investigation phase began, which will last until May. There are 16 defendants, including Salgado, whom the Prosecutor’s Office describes as the head of a criminal organization that created a fraudulent structure that worked outside the management bodies. The public ministry, which charges Salgado with 65 crimes, calculates that the damage caused reached 11,800 million euros.

The judicial tangle that surrounds the collapse of the group is at the height of the power that the Espírito Santo clan reached in Portugal. Salgado, as his cousin and his rival José Maria Ricciardi testified before the investigation commission, made the main decisions of the group unilaterally. “No decision was made without knowledge of that leadership,” he stated. Ricciardi is not charged in the case and will testify at the request of the prosecution. Although he was an administrator of the entity, he maintains that he was unaware of all the irregularities that are now attributed to the former managers. He assures that he is, in fact, the only member of the Espírito Santo family who has been able to continue working in the financial sector in these years.

He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.

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Salgado was removed in June 2014 from the presidency of Banco Espírito Santo, the financial lung that fed a family empire that came to have more than 350 companies spread all over the world and that included hotel, agricultural, health, insurance and agency businesses. travel. The entity that Salgado directed for 22 years was intervened by the Bank of Portugal in 2014, when its losses reached 3,700 million euros. The family accounts were frozen and assets accumulated by successive generations since José María Espírito Santo Silva laid the embryo of the emporium with a lottery house that opened in the 19th century were seized. A business and financial network that was always very well connected with the Portuguese political power, except in the period that followed the Carnation Revolution, when assets were expropriated.

Salgado’s shadow emerges in several cases of corruption investigated by the Portuguese justice system committed during the socialist government of José Sócrates, such as the trial against his former Minister of Economy and Innovation, Manuel Pinho, accused, among other acts, of favoring interests of the Espírito Santo Group during his ministerial stage in exchange for receiving monthly transfers of 15,000 euros in an account in Panama.

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