Costa’s deputy cited for “signing €300,000 rental payment for pavilion that doesn’t exist”
Miguel Alves. Official photograph taken when he was still Mayor of Caminha

Costa’s deputy cited for “signing €300,000 rental payment for pavilion that doesn’t exist”

New scandal to hit government after weeks of alleged incompatibilities…

There is the distinct feeling in the air of a concerted campaign to find mud sticking to government bigwigs.

Following weeks in which perceived incompatibilities, mainly involving practising ministers, have been widely publicised comes the latest ‘controversy’: an assistant secretary of state attached to the Prime Minister’s office who appears, in the past, to have signed off on an advance rental payment of €300,000 for a pavilion that does not exist.

Miguel Alves was the mayor of Caminha (Viana do Castelo) at the time.

Says Público, he negotiated and signed a contract for the construction of a multipurpose pavilion in his municipality, in October 2020. 

Explain subsequent reports in the wider media, the promissory contract “forced the municipality to pay €300,000 in advance rental to the future landlord.

“The payment was made without any guarantees and with the project simply on paper. Two years on, the pavilion still does not exist; no-one knows where it is to be built or even if it will be built.

“The advance rent was paid in March 2021, referring to a lease that should take place more than 25 years from now for the so-called Cross-border Exhibition Center (CET), a multipurpose pavilion that should cost about 8 million euros”.

Constructors, Green Endogenous SA, were described by Miguel Alves during his mayorship as a company “which has experience in the design, construction and operation of similar equipment”.

In addition, he said “they have proven strategic partnerships with leading financial institutions, the main shareholder of which is directly and indirectly the Portuguese State”.

The deal included a legal opinion “ordered and paid for by the promoter” that justified “non-submission (of the contract) to competition and public contracting regimes” as well as “non-subjection to prior control by the Court of Auditors”, said Público.

In other words, on paper, everything looked as if Green Endogenous SA was ‘good to go’; should be taken on its word, and had a ‘proven track record’.

BUT… “no one knows who the shareholders are”

Indeed, no one seems willing to talk about this deal at all.

Again, Público explains that Green Endogenous SA was established in February 2020 but has recorded no revenue in its 2020 accounts

The compay’s sole administrator of the company Ricardo Moutinho has said in a statement to Público, that this was “a private law contract” that “did not have in its genesis any prior procedure of qualification, determining the merit, experience and history of the company.”

He apparently ‘refused to give more details’.

Miguel Alves is also reportedly refusing to comment. 

“All questions on this subject should be addressed to Caminha Town Hall”, he told Público.

Back in Caminha, current mayor Rui Lages says he knows nothing about the deal.

Will this develop, or like so much else, be allowed to limp off to a quiet corner in the hope that another potential scandal pulls attentions elsewhere?

Says SIC television news, describing the issue as a “dubious business”, the Public Ministry “has opened an investigation”.

Meantime, a quick online search has thrown up a news item from February 2020 suggesting the MRG group signed a deal for the restoration of Guarda’s Hotel Turismo with Green Endogenous SA which was described as a company “based in Porto and formed a fortnight ago“.

On that basis, how could the then mayor of Caminha have described it only a few months later as a company with “experience” and “proven strategic partnerships”?

The report by stressed that concession of the hotel contract by MRG to Green Endogenous SA was dependent on authorisation by Turismo de Portugal and the Ministry of Finance.

A more recent report by the same news source shows that at some point Green Endogenous SA pulled out of the project. In other words, there appears very little justification in the way in which Miguel Alves described the company.

Hotel Turismo was involved in a fire very recently. Various news reports on the fire explain the hotel was sold in 2010 by the City Council – then led by Socialist mayor Joaquim Valente, to Turismo de Portugal for €3.5 million – to be recovered and transformed into a ‘charm hotel’ with a hotel school, but the project did not get off the ground, and the building has had its doors closed and has been left to deteriorate” ever since.

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