With tributes flooding in following the death of Portugal’s ‘father of democracy’ Mário Soares, one that will be raising a few eyebrows is that proffered by former ‘boss-of-all-this’ at BES Ricardo Salgado.
Could it be that the passing of such a monolith in the nation’s history has somehow facilitated a change in public opinion? Salgado is an official suspect in two major investigations into financial fraud, and very much like former prime minister José Sócrates, a man who has endured a lengthy period of house arrest, during which Soares visited him at least once.
Today, Salgado’s opinion article “Mário Soares, a great Portuguese” appears in business daily Jornal de Negoçios as well as online.
With those who have lived for years in Portugal remarking that this “could only happen here”, Salgado has used the opportunity to hit out at what he dubbed the “new destruction of Group Espírito Santo” by a right-wing that was completely unprepared and had no vision of what the State (of Portugal) should be.
It is a short article which otherwise eulogises Salgado’s ‘old friend’ for some of the many great things for which he is being remembered by others, but the ‘sting’ is right at the beginning where Salgado intimates that Soares was totally against the Bank of Portugal’s decisions over BES - which (as the nation has come to learn) were indeed disastrous.
Mentioning Soares’ hand in taking Portugal into the European Community, Salgado stresses the former PS leader’s “excellent relationships” with movers-and-shakers of the day (“Mitterand, Willy Brandt, Olaf Palm) and his “lucidity” in calling back “plundered businessmen”, like Salgado’s own relatives, to contribute to “an unprecedented period of entry (into Portugal) of capital that combined with money from European allies went towards numerous ‘reprivatisations’.
Salgado’s text may not be long, but it suggests his time ‘in the cold’ could be drawing to an end, as elsewhere not one prosecution has come from either Operation Monte Branco (stretching back to alleged money-laundering and fiscal fraud believed to have started in 2006), or the BES investigation (launched in 2014).