Operation Marquês: Former minister sentenced to two years in prison for money laundering

  • ECO News
  • 13 July 2021

Armando Vara was sentenced to two years in prison for the crime of money laundering.

The former minister and former administrator of Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Armando Vara, was sentenced to two years in prison for the crime of money laundering. This crime results from a separate process of Operation Marquês.

Judge Rui Coelho said the court “proved almost all the facts” of the accusation. The trial of Armando Vara took place during three sessions, being the first of Operation Marquês to know a final decision.

In closing arguments, the Public Prosecutor (MP) asked the defendant to be sentenced to prison for no less than two years, a measure that the defence lawyer considered exaggerated in view of the arguments presented in trial.

For the MP, the facts attributed to Armando Vara were proven objectively and subjectively, highlighting the relevance of the testimonial evidence provided by the wealth manager Michel Canals and the inspector Paulo Silva on the complex financial circuit of accounts in Switzerland and offshore accounts of which the defendant was the true beneficiary.

The Public Prosecutor stressed that about €2 million were transferred to a Swiss account under the offshore company Vama, of which Armando Vara was the ultimate beneficiary, and recalled that the defendant when questioned by the criminal instruction judge, in 2009, “assumed ownership of all accounts” and admitted having committed tax fraud against the tax authority.

Armando Vara was initially accused of crimes of corruption, laundering and qualified tax fraud, but, by the instructional decision of judge Ivo Rosa, on April 9, he was only tried, in a separate process, for a crime of money laundering.

The former minister is since January 16, 2019, serving a sentence of five years in prison as part of the Face Oculta process, having, in late March 2019, the Court of Aveiro agreed to deduct the three months and seven days of house arrest to which Armando Vara was subject to, as part of the Operation Marquês investigation, from the five years in jail, that he is currently serving.