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Euro MP “wants to reopen” Portugal’s submarine investigation

With end-of-year studies and commentary alluding to Portugal’s less-than-edifying relationship with transparency and good practices, Euro MP Ana Gomes is pushing for a reopening of Portugal’s (in)famous submarine investigation, citing new data published in the Panama Papers, leaked last April.

Vice-president of the European Commission set up to investigate the incriminating leaks that show how the rich and famous use offshore tax havens to evade paying their dues, Gomes told Expresso that she thinks the Attorney General should be reopening the case, while she hopes that the European Parliament will take it on as a test issue when the commission convenes.

Gomes has always maintained that the less-than-clear ‘submarine deal’ – celebrated when Paulo Portas was defence minister and Durão Barroso was prime minister – was mired with corruption.

At issue particularly is the fog surrounding ‘the beneficiaries of around €10 million in bribes from German suppliers” of the billion euro vessles.

Gomes – arguably Portugal’s most pro-active MEP – says data supplied by the Panama Papers “can help follow the money trail” to a Bahamian investment Fund.

The transfer was made by ESCOM – the consultancy company owned by the Espírito Santo Group – and “represented the consortium of German suppliers”.

During Portugal’s very short-lived investigation into the ‘submarine controversy’ (click here), the public ministry never managed to get Bahamian authorities to cooperate.

But thanks to the Panama Papers a great deal more is now known about the transfer, where it went and how it ended up in the hands of a company of Swiss lawyers “acting as intermediaries for the beneficiaries”, says Expresso.

PANA – the name of the commission set up to investigate the Panama leaks – is now working on political recommendations to stop this kind of tax evasion. Gomes explains that it means to choose a real-life case, and she’s gunning for the submarines.

Her proposal has to go before other MEPs, and that is where it may come unstuck. Gomes tells Expresso she “believes she could get the backing of the Greens and Socialists, but she is not so sure about German MEPs, or those from the European People’s Party back by the PSD and CDS (Portas’ supporters)”.

The proposal also outlines the various figures Gomes believes need to be heard, including Paulo Portas and Durão Barroso.
But “if there turns out not to be an investigation by the parliamentary commission, there will be one made by a group of MEPs”, Gomes stresses, “preferring not to reveal their names” for the time being, adds Expresso.

The Plan B has the means to finance an investigation, says Gomes – showing that her determination to pursue this issue is far from over.

PANA will be making a decision over which “test case” to study early in the New Year, says Expresso.


Every three days this year, judicial police have arrested someone for corruption, national director Almeida Rodrigues has told reporters – stressing that his force simply “does not have the necessary manpower for this fight”.

Statistics, published on the International Day against Corruption, showed that since last January 119 people have been arrested – while on a broader scale, since 2014 3.360 inquiries have been initiated into corruption (1153), embezzlement (836), abuse of power (738), money laundering (332), economic participation in business (162), trafficking of influences (56), ruinous administration (52) and the receipt of undue advantage (31).

Justice minister Francisca Van Dunem told a conference of ministers to mark the occasion that corruption is “corroding democracy” and its combat is the “cause to which we must dedicate our efforts”.

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