The case, dubbed ‘Cuba Livre’, is based on a criminal investigation started on 28 September 2011 by the then attorney-general of Portugal, Fernando Pinto Monteiro.
It concerns alleged irregularities in the drafting and execution of the region’s budgets as well as problems with the reporting of charges assumed but not paid.
The total value of this alleged concealed debt has been assessed at €1.1 billion.
Madeira’s total public debt has been calculated at €6.3 billion, under an economic adjustment programme agreed between the regional and central governments.
Various searches and other police operations were carried out on the island as part of the investigation, with documents seized at a department of the regional government that has since been closed down, testimony from 40 witnesses, and the formation of a team of experts to carry out the probe.
Jardim and Cunha e Silva “will be heard on the 20th,” the president of the Madeira court district, Paulo Barreto, told Lusa News Agency last month, explaining that the case had been reopened at the request of people who had formally registered an interest in the case: Baltasar Aguiar and Gil Canha, former directors of the now defunct PND party, and the mayor of Santa Cruz, Filipe Sousa.
While Jardim and Cunha e Silva were never named as formal suspects in the investigation by public prosecutors, Barreto noted, the request was made to reopen the case and for them to be listed as suspects as well as those people already cited.
The people listed by prosecutors as suspects were former government officials: Amélia Gonçalves (director of the Office of Budget Management and Control), Dulce Veloz (then director of the Budget and Accounts department), Ricardo Rodrigues (regional director of Budget) the former regional secretary of Social Infrastructure, Luis Santos Costa, and the former regional secretary of Plan and Finance, Ventura Garcês.
Jardim headed the regional government from 1978 to 2015 and was immensely popular in Madeira but viewed with suspicion by some officials in Lisbon.