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 maintenance work 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 Trident submarines 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 Arpão 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 submarine is the only company that knows how it works.
The final decision to buy the two submarines came in September 2003, with the Government led by Barroso and with Paulo Portas as defence minister opting for the German proposal instead of the French, seemingly as as the bribes were of a better quality - who would suspect an upright German consortium of bribing foreigners to get some business in?
IN Portugal, the sbmarine 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 procurement system where bribery was commonplace and acceptable.
Nothing came of this enquiry which many saw as a whitewash especially as the German court already had prosecuted and tried a clutch of Ferrostaal directors for bribing foreign buyers. They were given suspended sentences and fines after admitting that around €30 million had found its way into the pockets of various intermediaries, including €1 million to a Portuguese Admiral who has never been named - in Portugal, anyway.
The two Trident submarines started to be built in Germany in 2005 and were delivered to the Portuguese Navy in 2010 and 2011 at a cost to Portuguese taxpayers of €900 million - the deal was that an equal sum was 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 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 at the trough of procurement spending.