Diogo Gaspar, director of Belém’s presidential museum, was arrested this morning over “suspicions of crimes relating to the museum’s management”.
According to reports, alleged corruption, embezzlement, economic participation in business and abuse of power are all being investigated by PJ police.
Reacting to the news, a source for President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has stressed that Gaspar is innocent until proven guilty.
The source nonetheless confirmed to Expresso that it had been the President who gave “instructions to reinforce financial checks, control and a permanent audit on financial management” of the museum.
Gaspar has been director of the Museu da Presidência da República for the last decade.
Diário de Notícias stresses that along with the arrest this morning, searches are going ahead at various houses and businesses in the Greater Lisbon and Portalegre areas.
A statement from the Attorney General’s office says that eight magistrates have been involved in the swoop, along with “around 30 PJ police officers”.
The inquiry on which today’s activity has been authorised goes back to April 2015, says the statement (i.e. almost a year before President Marcelo took office) and “investigates suspicions of the favouring of private interests and those of businesses with a view to obtaining undue economic advantages, and suspicions of the solicitation of benefits in return for the promise to exercise influence on public decision-makers”.
“Equally under investigation,” the statement continues, “is the use of State resources for private ends, the appropriation of public property and the elaboration of paperwork, in a functional context, that does not conform with reality and which prejudiced public heritage interests”.
The Attorney General’s communiqué explains that “at issue are facts which involve the crimes of trafficking of influence, document falsification, embezzlement, economic participation in business and abuse of power”.