Prosecutors finalise more charges in cases linked to BES

  • Lusa
  • 22 July 2022

One of the five people now targeted is likely to be the former CEO of BESA, Álvaro Sobrinho, who was already a defendant in the case.

Portugal’s office of public prosecutions has confirmed that it has finalised new charge sheets in two cases linked to the defunct Espírito Santo group, concerning the granting of financing by Banco Espírito Santo (BES) to its subsidiary in Angola, BESA, and BES’s own capital increase in 2014, the year the group collapsed.

In a note published on its website, the office’s Central Department of Investigation and Prosecution (DCIAP) says that, in relation to the first case, “charges were brought against five members of the Board of Directors of BESA and BES, for … crimes of aggravated abuse of trust, qualified swindling and aggravated laundering” relating to events that occurred between 2007 and July 2014.

The charge sheet cites the suspected embezzlement of funds from interbank money market (IMM) credit lines and bank overdrafts between 2007 and 2012 “for the benefit of some of the defendants, of corporate structures under their control and of third parties,” with benefits to these parties of almost €500 million determined.

“Also included in the charge sheet is the conduct of three of the defendants, directors of BES, in the period between October 2013 and July 2014, consisting of concealing from the other directors facts related to the real state of degradation of BESA’s credit portfolio, which allowed BES to continue to finance the latter, through the approval of new IMM lines and bank overdrafts,” the statement adds.

Without specifying the identity of the defendants in this case, it is possible to deduce that one of the five people now targeted is likely to be the former CEO of BESA, Álvaro Sobrinho, who was already a defendant in the case.

The statement also says that the practice of the crimes listed on the new charge sheet resulted in benefits of more than €5 billion and $210 million (€207 million).

The second case to receive a charge sheet relates to the BES capital increase that took place between May and June 2014, just weeks before the bank collapsed.

This case has six persons of interest (five individuals and one company), with four having been BES directors and another an employee of the bank.

At issue are the crimes of market manipulation and serious fraud; according to the DCIAP, it was found that the benefits arising from the practice of the crimes charged amounted to more than €1 billion.

The charges sheets in the two cases were issued 15 July.

In its statement, the DCIAP also highlights the help it received from members of the Technical Advice Unit of the office of the attorney general, of inspectors from the Judicial Police (PJ) and an information analyst from the National Republican Guard (GNR) in the investigations.