Manuel Pinho: Socrates’ former Minister of Economy and Innovation arrested in Lisbon to prevent a leak | International

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The former Minister of Economy and Innovation of Portugal between 2005 and 2009, Manuel Pinho, has been arrested at the end of his interrogation at the headquarters of the Central Department of Investigation and Criminal Action (DCIAP) for the crimes of tax fraud and money laundering related to corruption practices in the energy company EDP and the former Grupo Espíritu Santo (GES). Pinho’s lawyer, Ricardo Sá Fernandes, described the arrest as “abuse of power.” In statements to the press, collected by the weekly Express, the lawyer assured that Pinho, holder of the portfolio in the Government of the socialist José Sócrates, had always appeared before the authorities when he had been summoned. “No one is fleeing here, nor is there any reason to suspect that they are going to flee. That is why I deeply regret this act. The Public Ministry cannot choose the judges who serve its purposes. I’ve already seen things that I never thought I’d see ”. According to the newspaper Public, Manuel Pinho settled in Alicante, where he has rented a house and from where he frequently travels to other countries for business reasons.

The arrest of the former minister several years after the investigation of the case began after the change of magistrate and the dissemination of new information about the concealment of his money in a tax haven, revealed in the so-called Pandora Papers, the investigation of the International Consortium of Journalists published in November. In addition, the shameful escape by the founder of the Portuguese Private Bank (BPP), João Rendeiro, who fled from Portugal in September to avoid being imprisoned and was arrested last weekend in South Africa, has also been able to influence the arrest. . Despite the fact that Rendeiro had three sentences that condemned him to 19 years in prison in total, he continued to enjoy autonomy of movements and judicial authorization to travel abroad. Thanks to one of those permits, he flew to London in mid-September and disappeared there. Now it has been known that he flew to Qatar and, later, to South Africa, where he resided in luxury hotels. His arrest has mitigated the sense of consternation that spread after the escape.

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Former Minister Manuel Pinho was indicted in the case of the energy company EDP in 2017 for suspicions of corruption and money laundering related to funds from the former Grupo Espíritu Santo (GES), the international conglomerate set up from the Banco Espíritu Santo that collapsed in 2014 Its sinking brought to light a fraudulent structure and illegal practices that are investigated in various processes, such as Operation Marquis, where Socrates is involved.

The Public Ministry considers that Pinho favored EDP’s interests during his time as Minister of Economy and Innovation through some decisions in exchange for the energy company contributing 1.2 million dollars (1.06 million euros) to the Columbia University, in the United States, in order to facilitate the hiring of Pinho as a visiting professor at the university institution. In this process there are also accused, among others, António Mexia, who was executive president of the EDP, and the administrator João Manso Neto, who are accused of having corrupted a minister, a secretary of State, a government advisor and a director General of the Government of Socrates and also of having damaged the interests of the EDP in the award of the construction of a reservoir.

In addition, Manuel Pinho is accused of favoring the interests of the GES during his ministerial stage in exchange for receiving monthly transfers of 15,000 euros, deposited into an account in Panama. Both Pinho and Mexia had been executives of Banco Espíritu Santo.

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