Submarine report submitted - Paulo Portas escapes further grilling

portas2Portugal’s coalition parties have closed ranks to reject requests from the opposition to extend the submarine enquiry.

Calls for certain government officials to be interviewed a second time were rejected - music to the ears of the deputy prime minister Paulo Portas who oversaw the military purchases in 2004 when Minister of Defence.

The curtailment of the enquiry, it is out of time but incomplete, led to opposition accusations that the conclusion to the enquiry broke new parliamentary records for speed.

The opposition commented as one that Paulo Portas knew more than he had let on when interviewed as part of the current enquiry.

Also, that the Secretary of State for Fiscal Affairs Paulo Nuncio was deeply involved in the affair.

Nuncio in 2004 was working for the Austrian Steyr company as a lawyer, a company later acquired by General Dynamics which provided the armoured vehicles to Portugal's military. Nuncio is accused by Portuguese businessman Francisco Pita of Fabrequipa of pushing him to agree to fake contra deals but the report does not go as far as accusing anyone of taking bribes despite the parallel German trial proving that bribes were paid.

The submarine purchases went through with a bribery package of €30 million, €5 million of which is now known to have found its way into the accounts of Espirito Santo family members after a worldwide series of transfers via Escom. The payment was referred to by Ricardo Salgado as 'commission.'

The armoured vehicle purchases also are under suspicion with bribes of €10 million linked to the deal.

DCIAP criminal investigators have a copy of the report sent to the former Minister for the Economy Álvaro Santos Pereira in which it is alleged that that those involved in these defence contracts committed fraud and took bribes.

The Left Bloc’s João Semedo said the enquiry will go down in parliamentary history as the most rapid ever, while the Communist Party’s Jorge Machado spoke of a "hoax" and a "scam."

The socialist José Magalhães said that suspicions continue to surround members of the current government.

Coalition members said the enquiry had been a long and thorough one and accused the opposition of taking political advantage just because they did not like the results.

The parliamentary inquiry had a deadline of 120 days but this already has been extended twice, first due to the holidays, secondly to allow time for written responses from former prime ministers Barroso and Guterres.

The results still are not complate as there are missing documents and transcripts to be added to the report according to the committee chairman Telmo Correia who confiormed that despite "165 hours of meetings," 17 transcripts are incomplete.

Telmo Correira said her request to visit one of the sumbmarines as part of her enquiry has been denied by the Chief of Staff of the Navy.

The German trial discovered that a Portuguese Admiral has received €1 million, which may explain the reticence of the Navy to allow meddling politicians aboard.

Social Democrat Monica Ferro will delivered a draft of the findings today and parliamentary groups have until October 7 to suggest changes.

The discussion and vote on the report is scheduled for October 8 and will be voted on by the assembly on 17 October.

Certainties are that bribes were paid by the Germans and is likely that various Portuguese received them.

If this long and expensive enquiry arrives at muddled conclusions and names no names, and if the public prosecutor fails to start criminal procedings against those that took bribes, the public will have right to give up believing that justice exists in Portugal, or if it does, it is only for the lower ranks.  


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+1 #1 Robert Thomas 2014-10-03 08:25
As often said on these pages ... the Portuguese elite cannot be left to 'investigate' the Portuguese elilte !

This country is not nearly sufficiently developed to have in place the mechansims and experts needed. Salazar left it too backward.

And, perhaps also a Portuguese genetic failing, the 'backbone' of probity necessary. Everyone in a position to ... 'chancing it'. Not linking their socially bad behaviour to the common good.

How often do we hear that stupidity that 'everyone is doing it' ? (i.e. breaking the law) !

At the least the Germans should be naming names from their end of the case. Leaving any Portuguese named to take the case to a German court to 'clear their name'. To explain themselves.

Always keep in mind that the Germans paid over their hard earned 'euros' to get a result. Not to be 'stitiched up'. This was fraud.

Keep digging Bundesnachrichtendienst ! (Now try saying that after a few lagers)

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