Monica Ferro from the Social Democratic Party, of which Passos Coelho is the leader, has defended her report into military spending, bribery and poor controls, against opposition accusations that she had to rush to finish most of the work and that is still is not complete.
The 456 page report concludes that the most unsatisfactory part of the procurement of military equipment since 1998 to date has been is the management of the contra deals, where the supplier agrees to invest in Portugal in return for the order.
Over 36 conclusions and four recommendations later the parliamentary inquiry report refers to the "clear weaknesses in the custody of the documentation of these processes."
The report has been presented and MPs now have until next Tuesday, October 7, to propose amendments but this date may be moved as the report was late by a day but even so, its contents for those looking for answers to the question who took what money from whom, will be disappointed.
One recommendation is that the money promised in return for the arms orders actually is invested in Portugal.
Where the work of the parliamentary inquiry coincided with parallel judicial investigations there will be cooperation, but "the work of the commission has not found any proof or evidence of unlawful acts by the political and military decision makers that were analysed."
That seems to be that. This long awaited report convienently has failed to find if anyone has done anything wrong. Despite evidence given at a trial in Germany that named names, those transcripts have remained in German hands and it seems likely that the Portugese report, written by a PSD party member clearly destined for high office, focuses on record keeping and does not focus on the €30-40 million handed out in bribes by the German consortium to buy the military orders. The people who arranged the bribes have been sentenced and fined in Germany but nobody in Portugal seems to have received any money at all.
The government opposition is not convinced and the socialists want to join forces with the commies and left bloc to propose significant changes to a report which everyone is too polite to refer to as a monumental whitewash of hitherto unseen proportions.
Despite moves to block the dissemination of this great work, the socialists are to ensure the report is on the web by next Tuesday so that research can continue and public and press opinion can be assessed.
MP Jorge Machado considers the whole report "a farce” and left bloc MP João Semedo said the report “relieves the government of its political responsibilities. From the beginning we realised that the coalition wanted to prevent the commission from doing its job."
For the opposition, for the public and for the ruling coalition which wants any misdoings smothered, the report fails spectacularly to clarify the doubts that exist about the acquisition of submarines, the choice of the German consortium and even the role of the Espirito Santo family which we learned yesterday received €5 million of a €30 million bung that ended up in offshore accounts.
Monica Ferro dutifully states that she has to work in an environment of innuendo of illegalities and found no evidence of illdoing. By producing a report that is proof free she does parliament, the public and her career no good service in the long run.
Ferro's appeal for absolution, for she knows thais report is not conclusive as promised, is that where there are criminal investigations going on, she did not have access to the details so could not include them in her text.
The report itself seems to have caused Ferro some problems, "In fact, we had many problems with the formatting of the report. The layout is not as we would like it to be, there are different formats that result from the texts being inserted into the document. My judgment was deciding it was preferable to deliver a report that was not how I would like form a cosmetic point of view, than continue to delay because I know that my colleagues were eager to read the 400-page report."
MPs and the public wanted facts, not necessarily a pleasing layout.