A damning dossier of deceit, revealing a scandalous level of fraud in the ‘post-fire’ rebuilding programme of 2017, has been delivered to the Attorney General’s Office, the Accounts Court, MPs in parliament and the offices of the President of the Republic.
The work of Vítor Reis, former president of the Institute of Housing, it is entitled “Pedrógão Grande’s houses of shame”.
Talking to a parliamentary committee this week, Reis said: “I was faced with a growing scandal and could not keep quiet, no matter the consequences and difficulties (of speaking out) might cause”.
Tabloid Correio da Manhã stressed that six days after Reis delivered his initial report on the number of houses affected by the fire that killed 66 people in June 2017, his institute was “removed from the reconstruction process”.
The inference being that it is at this point that the ‘scandal’ began.
In his presentation to MPs, Reis explained that of the 46 properties, 28 were not even permanent homes, six were buildings that hadn’t even been affected by the fires, five were ‘non-habitational properties transformed into habitational properties’ and four were complete new-builds, constructed in areas where “before (the fires) there was nothing”.
This is not the first time suspicions have been raised over the Pedrógão Grande rebuilding programme (click here).
It was also not the first time allegations of malpractice have been made (click here).
A DIAP (department of investigation and penal action) investigation, led by authorities in Coimbra, already has 34 ‘arguidos’ (official suspects).
Mayor Valdemar Alves has been the focus of much criticism, but has maintained the posture that he is blameless of any wrong-doing – and sees no reason why he should explain himself.
Reis meantime affirms that there are more homes to add to the dismal list, daring anyone to try and refute him.
“I haven’t made anything up”, he told his audience. “I discovered (what was going on). I saw with my own eyes, I witnessed it, heard people saying it, confronted myself with facts and documents, with images and photographs. It became imperative that I brought all this here today. No democratic society should stifle scandals – and this, ladies and gentleman, is a scandal.”
Very much as alleged by Visão magazine last summer, the “majority of situations” had to do with people changing their fiscal addresses in order to receive money from the Revita Fund.
“People who did not have a fiscal address in Pedrógão Grande, who did not live in Pedrógão Grnade, who did not have any kind of permanence there, changed their fiscal address after the fires to obtain the support of donations, and with this obtain treatment as if they had a permanent home”, said Reis.
The Revita Fund involves a number of public entities, including the Pedrógão Grande municipal council, the Portuguese Red Cross and the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa.