With the nation’s media honing in on what it calls Portugal’s “cartel do fogo” – an organised network purportedly set up to profit from wildfires – major-general Francisco Grave Pereira, the president of the ANPC civil protection authority, has tendered his resignation.
The news came early this morning and follows a damning report compiled for the ministry for internal administration by IGAI, the ministry’s general inspectorate.
The report suggests Pereira violated his duty of care in the way his authority handled the transfer of six heavy-duty Kamov firefighting helicopters to the company that now operates them, Everjets.
According to Público, “IGAI concluded that Civil Protection did not look after the interests of the State in this process” that currently sees three of these multi-million machines grounded and effectively useless as Portugal has to rely on reinforcements from other countries in one of the worst summers for raging wildfires.
Público adds that publication of the IGAI report was consistently delayed.
When it was finally presented to the ministry, inspectors recommended the opening of two prosecutions: one against the ANPC president and the other against a “former national director who has since left the institution”.
The furore is set to continue, with leader writers highlighting the millions made by Portugal’s fire cartel over the last decade.
Correio da Manhã suggests the combat of the country’s wildfires has seen €821 million of public money go to private enterprises.
The Kamovs, for example, were purchased by the government of José Sócrates for €42.1 million, says the paper, and two have been out of commission for over three years.
The problem centres on extremely expensive repair work needed on the second-hand aircraft purchased from Russia.
CM has also highlighted the fact that the Public Ministry “considers there exist indications of illegality relating to the contracts celebrated”.
At issue, says the paper, are suspicions of the practice of corruption, economic participation in business, falsification and prevarication.
For now, all that is certain is that major general Pereira’s resignation has been accepted.