Portugal’s Supreme Court of Justice today refused to release former economy minister Manuel Pinho from house arrest he has been facing since last December.
The 67-year-old faces charges of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion. Trial by prosecutors against him in the wider investigation into EDP’s “excessive rents” is that he was ‘corrupt in the performance of his duties by former banker Ricardo Salgado (himself facing multiple criminal charges on various fronts).
Mr. Pinho is also charged with ‘benefiting from BES/GES and hiding money in offshores’, explain the ratios, adding “there are also suspicions that he was bribed by EDP with an academic career in the United States.
All accusations have been denied by the various parties believed to have been involved for over a decade. That’s what caused such consternation last year when Judge Carlos Alexandre ruled – allegedly on the basis of new evidence – that Manuel Pinho was suddenly at risk of absconding and should be placed under house arrest until he can post a bond of 6 million euros.
As all the media explained at the time, it was (and remains) the highest bond which has never been filmed in Portugal.
Mr Pinho said he simply didn’t have that kind of money and appealed – and last month Court of Appeal judges agreed Judge Alexandre could not deprive a suspect of freedom on the grounds that he did not have 6 million euros.
This was probably the moment when Mr Pinho thought he had a chance of being freed – hence the request for writ of habeas corpus. Defense attorney Ricardo Sá Fernandes argued that his client was illegally imprisoned.
However, the Supreme Court justices did not see it that way.
Rádio Renascença explains that “the Supreme understood that there was no basis for the petition”.
So, for now, Mr. Pinho stays where he is.
The wife of the former banker also remains under house arrest
A similar situation faces Maria de Jesus Rendeiro, the wife of former BPP bank boss João Rendeiro who left Portugal just when he was due to be called to prison.
Due to alleged collusion in the sale of confiscated artwork, Ms Rendeiro was forced to remain under house arrest with an electronic tag for another three months.
It is understood that she is living in the couple’s mansion in greatly reduced circumstances following the confiscation of all luxury items.
Meanwhile, her husband is due in court later this month regarding his extradition to Portugal.