Major-General Francisco Grave Pereira, the head of Portugal’s National Civil Protection Authority, has had to resign and will face charges after the General Inspectorate of Internal Affairs (IGAI) accused him of a failure to act in the public interest in the Kamov fire-fighting helicopter purchase from the Russians and subsequent transfer to the private company Everjets.
One of the main beneficiaries of Portugal’s spate of fires is Everjets, bought by Domingos Névoa in 2015 along with a convenient long-term contract signed by the Civil Protection Authority.
The Inspectorate’s long-overdue report blamed Major-General Pereira for a breach of duty of care over the cost of repairs ordered by the Civil Protection Authority for the six helicopters, two of them remaining grounded ever since they were bought from the Russians.
The IGAI report sent to the Ministry for Internal Administration suggested disciplinary proceedings for Pereira and another former national director, who since has left the Civil Protection Authority.
The minister declined to discuss the report, arguing that its contents are confidential but has scheduled a press conference for later in September.
The original inquiry was launched in June 2015 by order of the former Minister of Internal Affairs, Anabela Rodrigues who took over from Miguel Macedo.
The opening of the investigation came after the Civil Protection Authority detected "serious problems in the State-owned aircraft" which were transferred to Everjets.
Of the six Kamov helicopters bought, only three are fit to fly. Two have damaged mechanical systems and the third has never worked at all.
The police have been running their own inquiry into the Everjets/Kamov deal under Operation Crossfire which relates to various lease agreements for the operation and maintenance of the Russian-made Kamov helicopters based in Ponte de Sor.
The investigation springs from several complaints from companies in the aeronautical sector which have protested at alleged irregularities in the tendering process conducted by the National Civil Protection Authority which chose Everjets to run and maintain the firefighting fleet.
Days prior to the formalisation of the State contract with Everjets the company was bought by the owner of Bragaparques, Domingos Névoa, already convicted of corruption in the Parque Mayor case.
The former Minister of Internal Affairs, Miguel Macedo, later resigning over the Golden Visa corruption scandal, allegedly sent confidential details of the tender for the operation and maintenance of the six Kamov helicopters, to his friend Jaime Gomes some three months before the tender went public.
According to the prosecutors, Jaime Gomes maintained relations with the aeronautical group Faasa - that was subcontracted by Everjets.
In another case of intestinal complexity, again the stench of corruption in government leaks into an already fetid atmosphere. The public rightly may conclude that there are few, if any, areas of public life in Portugal in which corruption is not the order of the day.
For details of the police investigation, see: 'Police carry out raids in Kamov helicopter corruption scandal'