Oceanational, a company owned by ex-Formula 1 driver Tiago Monteiro, and Jose Guedes, claims that the state still owes them up to €6 million for a sponsorship deal channelled through the Autodrome’s management company Parkalgar.
They claim the deal was agreed with officials in the José Sócrates government and the amount was to fund the entry of the Tiago Monteiro team in the GP2 championship (second division of Formula 1, owned by Bernie Ecclestone) as a way of promoting the Autódromo Imternacional Algarve, inaugurated in November 2008.
The money was not to be paid directly by the state. The €6 million would be transferred in tranches of up to €2 million per season by Parkalgar, the beleagured private company that owns the Portimão circuit.
Neither the state nor Parkalgar seem to have upheld their part of the agreement. This may be because early on the deal was deemed illegal by the Court of Auditors but as recently as January this year Parkalgar’s management asked the Government to make the agreed payments totalling €6 million for the Oceanational deal and for sponsrship of various other events.
Laurentino Dias, the former Secretary of State for Sport, said that the previous government had no involvement in the process, adding that there was no kind of commitment, guarantee or protocol, however documents exchanged between commercial parties and and Laurentino Dias are in the hands of Minister, Miguel Relvas, Deputy Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, and Alexandre Mestre, Secretary of State for Sport and Youth show this is not quite the case.
In October 2008 Laurentino Dias sent an email to Oceanational stating that support will be provided through Parkalgar, to a maximum value of two million a year for three years, according to a Portuguese daily, O Publico.
Dias is quotes as saying ""I never took any responsibility in this process. My attitude on behalf of the state was always to be helpful to the limits of what was possible. I tried to create a good situation for Parkalgar and Oceanational, but these companies never had, or could have, on my part, any expectation that the state could help them or fund them."
The aid was to be channelled through Parkalgar in a process hidden until now from public scrutiny and without formal contracts. This deal was deemed illegal by the Court of Auditors.
Of the six million euros originally agreed, Oceanational to date has received little more than €1 million, and despite this, the team continued to compete and promote the Autódromo Internacional Algarve until October this year when the whole Parkalgar enterprise ended up in court for an insolvency process involving dozens of creditors.
Oceanational management wants their money, the former Sectretary of State says there was no agreement, and Parkalgar has asked the current government to cough up. This could get interesting.