By Sergio Goncalves
LISBON (Reuters) – The former patriarch of the Espirito Santo family of bankers, Ricardo Salgado, was sentenced to six years in jail by a Lisbon court on Monday for appropriating 10.7 million euros ($11.65 million) from defunct lender Grupo Espirito Santo (GES).
It is the first effective prison sentence for the former banker, who, since the collapse of GES and Banco Espirito Santo (BES) in 2014, is facing several court cases.
Judge Francisco Henriques said, “Almost all the facts contained in the indictment have been proven”, including three illegal transfers totalling 10.7 million euros from GES holdings to Salgado through offshore and Swiss accounts in 2011.
Salgado’s lawyer said the conviction does not reflect the facts presented during the trial and that, “despite respecting the court’s decision, he disagrees and will appeal” to a higher court.
“We do not agree with this decision….This fight will continue”, lawyer Francisco Proenca de Carvalho told reporters outside the courthouse.
Proenca de Carvalho said “it is not acceptable” that the court did not take into account that the 77-year-old Salgado suffers from Alzheimer’s disease when sentencing him to an effective prison.
Salgado must hand over his passport to police authorities and cannot leave the country.
After the collapse of the 150-year-old business empire of the founding Espirito Santo family, BES – then Portugal’s largest listed lender – had to be rescued in August 2014.
Portugal had to inject 4.9 billion euros to recapitalise the healthy part of BES, which was separated from its toxic assets.
($1 = 0.9188 euros)
(Reporting by Sergio Goncalves; Editing by Nathan Allen and Leslie Adler)