In a week when headlines screamed ‘Portugal’s anti-corruption strategy failed because politicians were left behind’, a former socialist politician ‘had the book thrown at him’ .
Armando Vara only left prison in October (early, due to the temporary inmate release policy as a means of reducing the risk of Covid transmission in overcrowded prisons).
Today, he heard he may well return – this time due to a money laundering conviction pulled from the wider ‘Marquês investigation’.
Appeals court judges Alda Tomé Casimiro and his assistant Anabela Simões Cardoso rejected Mr Vara’s appeal, saying “impunity for white-collar crimes” must be fought.
This will be another bitter setback for Mr. Vara whose lawyer has expressed absolute dismay at the treatment of his client by the judiciary (click here).
The two-year prison sentence, now reconfirmed, is linked to a conviction received by the Lisbon Criminal Court last July (when Mr. Vara was still in prison for influence peddling in the Face Oculta investigation click here).
He may be able to ‘challenge’ this decision in a higher court, in which case he is likely to remain free for some time to come.
Today’s news comes hot on the heels of the release of Transparency International’s latest ‘Corruption Perceptions Index’ – in which Portugal scores below the European average in points.
The reason for “not doing better” is that the anti-corruption strategy has excluded politicians and the Bank of Portugal, TI President Susana Coroado told Lusa.
“Political corruption is left out, people in high positions are left out – and that doesn’t paint the picture of good leadership, of leading by example,” she said. Indeed, the strategy essentially “left out problematic areas in terms of preventing corruption”.
The TI index puts Portugal tied with South Korea in 32nd place with 62 points out of 100. The EU average is 64 points.
The 2021 index shows Denmark, Finland and New Zealand leading in the fight against corruption, all with 88 points, while the “worst countries” are Syria, Somalia (both out of 13 points) and South Sudan (11 points).