For the third time, former Economy Minister Manuel Pinho was called on Tuesday, September 10, to the Central Department of Investigation and Criminal Action (DCIAP) to be questioned as part of the process in which suspicions of corruption involving Pinho are investigated. EDP. In the sights of justice, in the investigation of the so-called excessive incomes, is, among other suspicions, an alleged monthly agreement of 15 thousand euros from the blue bag of GES to Manuel Pinho as governor. But the former ruler could not make any statements. An application for the nullity of the defendant status brought by Miguel Barreto, former Director General of Energy and another defendant in the process, again led to the postponement of the interrogation.
“The Judgment of the Relationship that reinstated Manuel Pinho as a defendant in the case was appealed by me to the Constitutional Court and Miguel Barreto filed a claim for invalidity. We have been aware of the defendants of these two initiatives, who were aware of our appeal but not the request, so they understood that the subject of defendant status is still unclear until there is a final decision, ”said Ricardo Sá Fernandes, lawyer by Manuel Pinho.
It is recalled that the Lisbon Court of Appeal declared void the order of Judge Ivo Rosa who withdrew the status of defendant in the EDP case to former Economy Minister Manuel Pinho and Miguel Barreto. The Relação judgment of 27 June, therefore, again placed Manuel Pinho and Miguel Barreto as defendants in the investigation in the so-called EDP rent case, considering that Ivo Rosa's order is void for two reasons, the first of which which is because “the competence to assess nullities / irregularities occurring in the investigation phase belongs to the Public Prosecution Service”. A decision that, says Sá Fernandes now, "is not yet final".
To date, none of the other defendants, including EDP CEO António Mexia, has been questioned. Pinho would be the first to be questioned after formally resuming his defendant status in June this year after several months in which he argued that he was not charged following a decision by the investigating judge Ivo Rosa. And in October of last year, Ricardo Salgado, also accused in this case, went to DCIAP, but eventually refused to answer questions, having only made a statement to the prosecutors.
Manuel Pinho arrived at DCIAP a few minutes before 3 pm, but the interrogation did not take place. At the end of three hours, former Economy Minister Jose Socrates, leaving DCIAP, told reporters that he had been “three hours drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes” and was unable to clarify the Public Prosecution's doubts and eventually bring new information to the process.
Lawyer Ricardo Sá Fernandes explained that during that three-hour period, prosecutors were considering the possibility of initiating the interrogation despite the request of another defendant and came to the conclusion that they should not initiate the inquiry.
Manuel Pinho even had an interrogation scheduled for July last year (the second scheduled after a first scheduled in July 2017), having attended the DCIAP. But he was not questioned, because his lawyer filed a legal file to seek the removal of prosecutors Carlos Casimiro and Hugo Neto who are leading the investigation into the alleged criminal irregularities in the contracts between the state and EDP. Having been called to DCIAP three times, Pinho was only now confronted with all the facts imputed by the prosecutors.
The EDP case investigates the introduction in the national electricity sector of the Costs for Maintenance of Contractual Balance (CMEC), which arose to replace the Power Purchase Agreements (CAE), contracts that guaranteed to those who built power plants that the investment was rewarded. . The CMEC were created in 2004 by the Government of Santana Lopes, with the help of Minister António Mexia. In 2007, with José Sócrates in the leadership of the Executive and Manuel Pinho in charge of energy, the conditions for the early end of the CAE and its replacement by the CMEC were closed.
The types of crimes under suspicion
Prosecutors' suspicions concern active corruption and passive corruption and economic participation in business, in a process that also investigates the creation of a renewable energy course at Columbia University in the United States, allegedly paid by EDP and taught by the former minister. of Economy, Manuel Pinho.
The MP intends to investigate whether EDP's sponsorship of Columbia to finance a renewable energy course, in which Manuel Pinho taught, is a counterpart to the alleged benefits that EDP will have gained from the passage of the PPAs to CMEC and the extension of concessions. of its dams in 2007.
Authorities estimate that the electricity has been benefited by more than 1 billion euros and that in CMEC alone this benefit amounted to 475 million euros.
Following the search in the summer of 2017 last year, the so-called Operation Cyclone led to the constitution of several defendants (including António Mexia, EDP president; João Manso Neto, EDP Renováveis president and former REN president Rui Cartaxo), the investigation assumed in 2018 new contours with the discovery of new facts
Between 2002 and 2014, the MP suspects that Pinho will have received from Espírito Santo (ES) Enterprise more than three million euros, of which 778 thousand euros in the period he was ruler between March 2005 and July 2009, which will have reached the its accounts through the Panama-based offshore Mesete II and Tortoise Foundation by Espírito Santo (ES) Enterprises, an offshore company based in the British Virgin Islands tax haven.
The Public Prosecution Service has no doubt in classifying former Minister Manuel Pinho as a “GES / BES avant-garde”, having hidden this quality in the decision-making processes that allegedly favored Ricardo Salgado's group.
In 2018, the MP discovered new facts in the case that investigates the Espirito Santo Universe, which include transfers to offshorers that belong to Pinho, in the amount of about 3.5 million euros. Of this amount, which originates from BES's 'blue bag', the former governor received a total of about 1.8 million euros through two offshores to which were transferred monthly from about 15 thousand euros between July 2002 and June. of 2012.
Pinho regularized 2.7 million euros with 2012 tax pardon
Prosecutors Carlos Casimiro and Hugo Neto suspect that Manuel Pinho's alleged recourse to the RERT served to 'clean up' the alleged illicit origin of funds received from ES Enterprises, the 'blue bag' from GES. These bank accounts and their funds were not known to the tax administration. Hence the RERT is nicknamed as 'tax pardon'.
It is recalled that the first decision of Judge Ana Peres, the new head of the EDP case in the Central Court of Criminal Instruction (TCIC) after Ivo Rosa was exclusively with the instruction of Operation Marquis, gave the Ministry a 'green light' Public access to Banco de Portugal (BdP) administrative proceedings on Manuel Pinho's accession to the RERT.
According to data sent by Banco de Portugal to TCIC, Manuel Pinho stated on July 12, 2012 that he had 2,721,982, 73 euros deposited with Deutsche Bank Suisse (1,112,458 euros on behalf of the offshore company Mandalay Asset Management Corp) and Banque Privée Espírito Santo (1,609,524, 73 euros on behalf of Tartaruga Foudation, an offshore company based in Panama).
In July 2018, the MP eventually requested the BdP to send to DCIAP copies of any adhesions to Pinho's RERT I, II and III and his wife, Alexandra Fonseca Pinho. The request for information was made in the context of the investigation of excessive incomes that investigates the alleged favoring of electricity by the Government.
The prosecutor suspects that Manuel Pinho used the 2012 RERT to legalize the allegedly illicit funds he received from the offshore company ES Enterprises between 2002 and 2014.