Espírito Santo Bank ([ESB], Banco Espírito Santo - in Portuguese) wasn't too big to fail, in spite of it having been interconnected with all sectors of the Portuguese economy. From what we have been learning, ESB had stocks in every major Portuguese company, it lent millions of euros to friends and special interest groups (without collateral), it bought government debt to exhaustion, it sponsored political campaigns and it financed politicians to buy space of manoeuvre.
So far, the Portuguese Justice managed to ascertain that ESB had a Prime Minister (José Sócrates) in its pocket; that the Angolan Elite deposited cash (by the millions, brought in bags) in its institution without asking the origin of the funds, and that – contrary to what was believed – Portuguese funds were sent to Angola (to the newly created ESBA – Espirito Santo Bank of Angola) and then reintroduced in Portugal as Angolan investment. But Portugal needs to broaden the scope of the investigation as we might also be before a case of Terrorist Financing.
Laundry Service I
It is said that ESB sent over €1Bn to elements of the Angolan elite (including the President's sister, who was not engaged in any business activity big enough to receive a €800 million loan, again, without collateral) so that Ricardo Salgado could continue to intermediate weapon deals for Angola - it will be surprising to learn who the final recipient of those weapons really is. Fama est that billions of euros were placed under Angola's custody and then reintroduced in Portugal as Angolan investment. But all this raises a lot of questions:
- If the money served no purpose other than opening accounts in ESBA, and enriching Angolan elements for their silence; are we then talking about fraud to push ESB stocks up?
- If reports are correct, and ESB was strained after buying Portuguese debt – during PM Sócrates tenure – where did the billions bestowed upon Angolans come from?
- How come in the height of the economic crisis, and at the same time that ESB set up ESBA and other hundreds of offshore companies/accounts, Portugal saw an increasing influx of Angolan (not necessarily African natives), Chinese, Pakistani and Lebanese citizens (who bought either permits of residence or nationalities)?
- How come after ESB fell, Portugal started to suffer terrorist threats? Is this related to the real owners of the money laundered by Ricardo Salgado?
- €5.7Bn remain unaccounted for – where did that money go? Money does not vanish in thin air, so someone is hiding it. The question is, who?
Laundry Service II
Ricardo Salgado enjoyed a privileged position and, therefore, apart from being the CEO of ESB, he also acted as a broker for business in Portugal. As such, in exchange for commissions, he used his influence to mediate the request of loans between his clients and other Portuguese banks. But there is one question that pops in an inquisitive mind: was he involved in the scandalous sale of BPN to BIC (a Luso-Angolan bank, whose main stockholder is Isabel dos Santos, the Angolan President's daughter)? It is a valid question since in all recent banking scandals (EX: CGD and Montepio) Mr Salgado's name comes up.
Now, it is a fact that ESB was laundering money – through its Dubai branch – but what is not clear (even though the name of some Angolan generals come up) is whose funds Ricardo Salgado was actually laundering. If on one hand, he was sending money from Lisbon to Angola to launder in Luanda; on the other he was receiving funds through Angolans to launder in Dubai, in Switzerland, in London, in Miami etc...
What would we'd like to know is the real reason why President dos Santos cancelled the guarantee, he issued on behalf of ESBA to avoid the collapse of Espirito Santo's empire.
Young Isabel dos Santos, known by us as Ricardo Salgado's goddaughter, claims that her new wealth was not stolen from the Angolan People nor was it a gift from her papa; on the contrary, she began by selling eggs with her Nana – though recently, she claimed before an inexperienced audience, at the London School of Economics, that her fortune began on the day she sold her car by US$30,000 – it would be convenient to know whether the funds that move to and fro (between Angola and Lisbon) truly belong to the Angolan Elite or to either their Sunni or Shiite Clients.
So, we have a group of people, from a country whose people live way below the poverty line, who appear to be filthy rich (even though they dress poorly beyond any poor standards), who buy dozens of flats (worth millions, but who do not live in any of them), who buy cars (but 'offer' them to be driven by others), who throw birthday parties in Venice, Italy (but pay their guests to attend) and own big farms in Portugal with African slaves; thus, who are these people and whom are they working for?
Is Ricardo Salgado involved with the Middle Eastern citizens openly operating in Angola? And if so, did he transform Portugal in the Laundry Machine it is today; and has he exposed Portugal to danger stemming from Iran, Lebanon and their silent partner (Qatar)?
Ricardo Salgado and his family, Espírito Santo, are connected to another very interesting family - the Rothschilds - who are involved in any and everything and who also 'set up shop' in Dubai, three years after Salgado did. Is this truly a coincidence?
The so-called Angolan money trail was lost in London...
(This article was produced in cooperation with Lenny Hannah)
(Image: Former ESB's HQ in Lisbon [Ed.] - Google Images)