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Face Oculta sentences handed out – Godinho gets 17 years in prison

faceocultaThe Face Oculta case drew to a close today as prison sentences were handed out at the end of a trial resulting from an investigation that started five years ago.

The nationwide political corruption, money-laundering and corporate tax evasion scandal, came to light in October 2009 and resulted in the Prosecutor accusing 36 defendants, 34 people and two companies. 11 prison terms were handed out today.

The Polícia Judiciária started to investigate a business group headed by Manuel Godinho, whom they suspected of economic crimes and the bribery of managers of public bodies.

All of Godinho’s companies, many of which were linked to business waste and waste management operations, are based in the Aveiro district.

Godinho was arrested on October 28, 2009, in relation to economic crimes involving an oxygen-treatment and environmental cleaning group. By early November, some 14 people had been indicted.

Several companies' employees then were investigated, among them those of Petrogal and Portucel Soporcel.

Also investigated were GNR officers, town hall officials mostly from the Gouveia council, businesspeople, most prominently Manuel Godinho and his right-hand man Namércio Cunha, a formal suspect and alleged liaison person between Godinho and José Penedos at REN, and former politicians including Armando Vara formerly of Millennium BPC.

The former politician turned businessman Armando Vara was reported to have had suspicious phone calls with the then Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates.

These phone calls were recorded by the investigators but Sócrates denied any involvement, claiming he was “only talking to a friend.” The former PM has not been tried for his involvement in this corruption case, nor in any other, and remains able to live a €15,000 a month life of luxury in France with little declared income.

Today was payback time as the judge skipped much of the final document which stretched to 2,781 pages, and concentrated on sentencing those found guilty.

Armando Vara, former minister and former vice-president of Millennium BCP today was sentenced to five years in prison.

Manuel Godinho was sentenced to 17 years and six months in prison for multiple crimes of corruption, fraud, theft, trafficking in influence, forgery and criminal association.

José Penedos, former president of REN, received a 5 year sentence and his son Paulo Penedos received a 4 year sentence for peddling influence.

The final judgment began first thing this morning in the Aveiro court as the judge read excerpts of the summary of a trial that started on November 8, 2011.

Maribel Rodriguez, Godinho’s secretary, was sentenced to two years and nine months imprisonment suspended and must pay €3,000 to a charitable institution.

Namércio Cunha who worked for a scrap dealer in Ovar, Aveiro, was sentenced to 1 year and 6 months imprisonment, suspended.

No doubt there will be the usual denials and appeals but the reputations of those involved have sunk to new lows and the 17 year sentence for Godinho is a landmark ruling, hopefully marking the beginning of the end of Portugal’s acceptance of corruption of those in positions of power.

This successful prosecution of establishement figures was down to an investigation that differed from others.

The police in Aveiro formed a tight team which was allowed closely and covertly to monitor all of the suspects for one year. Evidence gathered in this way, in addition to the normal tracking for documents and bank accounts, proved vital in getting convictions.

The press reported nothing for a year during the most critical phase of the investigation. The police controlled the flow of information ensuring that as few people as possible, especially court staff, knew what was going on or had access to documents. The case became public only search warrants were issued for 30 locations in October 2009. The police even marked documents to track any copies made and handed out.

The case was not run from Lisbon but from Aveiro which could avoid the dissemination of vital information to nosey and leaky departments such as the Central Bureau of Investigation and Penal Action.
The same prosecutor was involved throughout and for the first time in Portugal, a major criminal case has had all the associated documentation scanned and by using Optical Character Recognition, key words could be looked up and cross referenced. Both the defendants and their lawyers had digital copies of everything.


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+2 #6 Charles Small 2014-09-07 16:55
After being convicted and sentenced the defendants all went home -how cosy is that .
0 #5 Ed 2014-09-07 13:51
Quoting RobertJ:
So, Peter, tell us then of the crimes committed by Sócrates.
If you don't, than it is a sort of parrot narrative, isn't it?

It's a long list but here are some of the highlights:
€141 million on deposit (2001 figure) in Medes Holding with a bank account in Cayman Islands held by ‘family members.’
Failure to submit tax returns showing interest income since the 1980s while living in Paris with costs of €15,000 pcm on an ex-PM’s retirement income.
False declarations regarding his university degree
The waiving of environmental restrictions to grant Freeport a licence to build the Alcochete shopping mall.
€1.277 million deposited in offshore accounts during Freeport licensing period.
Role in Face Oculta, neatly sidelined despite phone tap records.
Corruption involving €75 million Beja Airport development, and at EDP, SCUT and others.

+4 #4 Lita Gale 2014-09-07 12:42
Great to see Portugal fighting corruption in this manner. It is a positive step and even though the Courts filling system is down, but when it is working and with respect to the comments made, such system and the new Civil Procedure Code in Portugal is far more advanced than anything we have in place in England.
0 #3 RobertJ 2014-09-07 12:16
So, Peter, tell us then of the crimes committed by Sócrates.
If you don't, than it is a sort of parrot narrative, isn't it?
+4 #2 Charles Small 2014-09-07 07:42
Funny how the same names keep coming up -It is also shocking to note that if the case had been investigated and tried in Lisbon the outcome would probably have been different .Let´s hope the courts confidence grows to prosecute the rest implicate .
+7 #1 Peter Booker 2014-09-06 11:48
The bad news is that Sócrates is still free and living the life of Riley; and those others in charge during the submarine scandal (Barroso and Portas) still occupy positions of power and responsibility. But a start has been made, I suppose.

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