This Thursday, the PSD addressed 14 more questions to the prime minister about the alleged interference with the Bank of Portugal for the benefit of Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, considering that it will be the “last opportunity” to clarify the matter.
Speaking to journalists in the Assembly of the Republic, the social-democratic parliamentary leader recalled that last November the PSD submitted 12 questions to the prime minister about “possible interference” in the “suitability process that the Bank of Portugal did not grant to engineer Isabel dos Santos” and also in the sale and resolution of Banif.
Joaquim Miranda Sarmento announced that “the PSD has just presented 14 new questions on these two matters”.
“We hope that the Prime Minister can answer, and answer this time directly to each of these questions, so that this is the last opportunity for the Prime Minister to clarify his role either in the interference that he eventually had with the Banco de Portugal for it to grant the suitability to engineer Isabel dos Santos, either in the process of selling and resolving Banif”, he stressed.
The social-democratic parliamentary leader criticized António Costa for, “instead of answering each of the PSD’s questions”, having sent “a relatively vague and laconic text that left much to be answered, and that raised new questions”.
Among the 14 questions, Miranda Sarmento highlighted that the PSD wants, “regarding the question of the suitability of engineer Isabel dos Santos, to understand the reason for the intervention of the prime minister, how he was so quickly aware of the meeting between the then governor of Banco de Portugal” and the businesswoman, and the “why this process is linked to the BPI issue”.
“Regarding Banif, understanding the Government’s intervention, the reason for the letter sent on December 14 to the European Commission and the European Central Bank, and understanding whether the Government, with its action or inaction, did not precipitate the bank’s resolution, with significant costs for taxpayers,” added the Social Democrat deputy.
Asked whether the PSD admits to advancing to a commission of inquiry on the subject, the parliamentary leader indicated that the party wants to evaluate first the answers that the prime minister gives.
“After receiving the Prime Minister’s answers to these 14 questions, we will consider this issue”, he replied, indicating that the party keeps “all the parliamentary instruments” at its disposal open.
“The letter to Brussels”
In the document, released by the party, the PSD insists on some of the questions already raised at the end of last year and poses new ones.
The Social Democrats ask the prime minister “what were the reasons for sending a message to the governor of Banco de Portugal on 15 November 2022, “following the news that revealed the contact made in April 2016, declaring that in that At the time, he said that Banco de Portugal was trying to remove Isabel dos Santos from the management of EuroBic, when the solution for her departure from BPI was in progress”, pointing out setbacks in the responses that António Costa gave in January.
“With the Bank of Portugal not changing its decision, and having eng. Isabel dos Santos, having left BPI as a shareholder, does not consider that her action with the then governor Carlos Costa constitutes a very serious violation of the independence of the Central Bank, which turned out to be totally reckless and inconsequential ”, they ask.
“If engineer Isabel dos Santos used her departure from BPI as a form of ‘blackmail’ for her unsuitability on EuroBic, which led the Prime Minister to accede to this blackmail and try to condition the decision of the Bank of Portugal ?” asks the PSD.
The Social Democrats want Costa to clarify whether he “expressed disagreement with a possible non-recognition of suitability” of Isabel dos Santos for understanding “it would be inopportune to do so at that moment”.
Regarding the Banif process, the PSD wants to know whether Costa confirms that “in his written communication to the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Central Bank”, in 2015, he stated that “Banif was in a ‘resolution process’ and /or in the ‘pre-resolution phase’, although the voluntary sale process was still ongoing”, noting that “the prime minister cannot explain why he sent the letter to Brussels without informing the Bank of Portugal” .
On January 24, the prime minister responded to the first set of questions posed by the PSD, stating that he had never taken steps with Banco de Portugal “or anyone else” in favor of Isabel dos Santos’ suitability, ensuring that he only acted to seek to resolve the shareholder blockade in BPI.
Regarding Banif, António Costa said that in December 2015, the Bank of Portugal, led by Carlos Costa, concluded that the sale of Banif by resolution to Santander was the only alternative to liquidation, and led the process.