The Defence Minister Aguiar-Branco has authorised a maintenance contract for the second of the two submarines purchased from Germany, a deal that resulted in corruption and bribery allegations being proved in a German court.
The €5.5 million contract for the Arpão was listed in today’s Official Gazette for completion in 2015 and comes on top of the €4.5 million already spent having the Tridente serviced, two bills that were not budgeted for and will be paid under contracts that conveniently forget that the German consortium that supplied the vessels still owes Portugal €900 million in inward investment.
The decision benefits the Germans yet again who not only have supplied the submarines in a contra deal agreement which they spectacularly have failed to carry out, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems GmbH now picks up the maintenance work on the submarine as it apparently is very complicated to service and the German yard is the only authorised maintenance depot.
The complex and high-tech systems will need spare parts, only available in Germany, as the German consortium that supplied the ship is the only company that knows how it all works.
The final decision to buy the two submarines came in September 2003, with the Government led by Barroso and with Paulo Portas as defense minister opting for the German proposal instead of the French one as the bribes were of a better quality and who would suspect the upright Germans of bribing foeigners to get some business in?
The deal was subject to a recent parliamentary inquiry to the Military Equipment Acquisition Programme where the purchase of EH-101 aircraft, F-16 fighters, torpedoes, U-209 submarines and armoured Pandur II troop carriers all were purchased in a system where bribery was commonplace and condoned with the Germans as willing partners.
Nothing came of this enquiry which many saw as a whitewash especially as the German court already had prosecuted and tried Germany’s Ferrostaal directors for bribing foreign powers. They were given suspended sentences and heavy fines and admitted that round €30 million had found its way into the pockets of various intermediaries including €1 million to a Portuguese Admiral.
The two Trident submarines for Portugal started to be built in Germany in 2005 and were delivered to the Navy in 2010 and 2011 at a cost to the Portuguese taxpayer of around €900 million, with an equal sum to be invested in Portugal by the Germans.
This they have failed to do as this scam, had it been running as per normal, meant that the German obligation to invest in Portugal would quietly be forgotten, the bribes paid would be enough to be ensure nobody rocked the boat and no investment was needed in Portugal.
The Germans have no intention of fulfilling their part of the deal and further payment for service and spare parts adds insult to injury for the Portuguese taxpayer who yet again is picking up the tab for bent politicians and civil servants whose idea of public service is self service.