Corruption and economic crime in Portugal “just keep on growing”

Just as PJ police raided the central inspectorate of taxes, the ministry of defence and the Red Cross Hospital in Lisbon over suspicions of “irregularities in the hiring of teams and equipment”, the Public Ministry has announced that corruption and economic crime in the country is flourishing.

Despite all the crack-down efforts by authorities “abuse of power, money laundering and malpractice” are on the up by roughly 57.7%.

The dismal tally refers to investigations opened in 2017 set against those of the year before.

Says tabloid Correio da Manhã, there is one frail ray of sunshine. ‘It could have been worse’.

Mechanisms created to combat money-laundering, introduced by the Bank of Portugal this year, have blocked the movement of 126 million euros since January, as opposed to ‘a little more than nine million euros’ blocked by banks last year.

As for the latest investigation – in a universe of over 1300 opened for corruption this year – it is understood to centre on ‘suspicions of the trafficking of influences’… again!

Further news is expected by the end of the day.

On the subject of influence trafficking, former government minister and one-time director of State bank CGD Armando Vara is expected to be handing himself over to authorities this week, to finally begin the five-year jail term he has been fighting for three such indiscretions for the past four years.

Vara is not going quietly, however. He has consistently affirmed his innocence, claiming he was “condemned without proof” which is an “aberration” – and suggesting ‘superjudge’ Carlos Alexandre who is leading multiple probes into corruption has acted against him “out of vengeance”.