Anti-corruption MEPs travel to Portugal to investigate “missing €10 billion”

The latest offshore ‘scandal’ that looked in danger of being brushed under the proverbial carpet last week is likely to be brought out, warts and all, by a team of MEPs travelling to Portugal headed by redoubtable anti-corruption ‘watchdog’ Ana Gomes.

Gomes – famous for her zeal in trying to get to the bottom of Portugal’s ‘submarine scandal’, and notorious for her distrust of the Golden Visa programme – is vice-president of the PANA commission, looking into money-laundering, tax avoidance and evasion set up in the aftermath of publication of the Panama Papers.

She is just one of many who have not been convinced by the excuse that €10 billion disappeared from Portugal to offshore tax havens without trace during the austerity years due to an IT blackout (click here).

Gomes has told Economia online (ECO) that a team of Euro MPs from PANA will be visiting Portugal to investigate the offshore “glitch” in order to hear “all parties involved”.

These will include Paulo Núncio, the former CDS minister who took full responsibility for the embarrassment days before it was revealed that he had previously worked as a legal advisor to a Venezuelan oil company which sent a significant part of over €7 billion in transfers out of former BES to the offshore tax haven of Panama (click here).

As Gomes told ECO, going to Portugal means that “more people can be heard”. Indeed, this needs to happen, she stressed.

The mission may “go further” than the ‘missing €10 billion’ and probe the ‘free zone of Madeira’ regarding Football Leaks – another ‘scandal’ that broke with a furore and then suddenly seemed to dissipate (click here.

For now, it’s a ‘waiting game’, to see when the visit will go ahead. Gomes suggests it could be before the summer.

PANA was set up last year, with a deadline set for May. Gomes however is confident MEPs will get an extension of six-months for their inquiries. ECO says request for extra time has already been made.

[email protected]