Coimbra Metro “paid for nights at strip joints and hotels”

In yet another case alleging systemic abuse of power within the State sytem, PJ police investigators have rounded up a group of former directors of Coimbra’s fated Metro Mondego believed to have used company credit cards “as if they were their own”.

Expenses included trips to stripjoints and hotels, purchases of wine, perfumes and computer games, as well as household shopping at supermarkets.

At issue, writes Público newspaper, are sums amounting to as much as €100,000.

Unsurprisingly, the state-backed Metro Mondego project – begun in 1996 – never made it off the drawing board.

As expenses mounted up over the years, suspicions increased – and six former directors were eventually made formal suspects in an investigation which centered on crimes of grievous mismanagement, theft and economic participation in business.

As Público explains, the metro project “resulted in the demolition of buildings in Coimbra´s downtown area and the elimination of old railway tracks, which caused a lot of local unrest” at the time.
As the years went by, the rest of the town’s former railway system was closed down to make way for ‘the metro that never happened’.

Then, in 2011, the government announced the extinction of the business in charge, which went on to spend another €500,000 in salaries, writes Público.

An audit, again in 2011, showed that costs on the project had spiraled out of control.

This was backed by a complaint made via a civic movement, calling for “wider investigation” into the affair.

Two years on, nothing had happened, which lead to a request to “speed up the process”, which the Attorney General denied, on the basis that the “process is complex”, writes Público.

With the PJ investigation now completed, it is still unknown when this case will get to court.

Público adds that “this is not the first time Coimbra’s DIAP (department of penal investigation) has investigated the public business”.

In November 2010 it followed up a news story in local paper “A Beira” alleging Metro Mondego paid for directors who had already resigned to hire cars to the tune of €30,000.

The investigation was archived on the basis that DIAP did not consider any crimes had been committed, writes Público.

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