Photo of joaquim Pinto Moreira in the days when he was an integral part of PSD parliamentary benches. Image: Manuel de Almeida/ Lusa

Former PSD heavyweight accused of corruption

PSD party “withdrew confidence in Joaquim Pinto Moreira” almost two months ago

Former deputy chairman of the PSD parliamentary bench Joaquim Pinto Moreira has been charged with two crimes of passive corruption, one of influence trafficking and another of violating urbanistic regulations.

A three-term Mayor of Espinho (between years of 2009 – 2021) before he entered parliament, Pinto Moreira’s name has been linked to a corruption investigation dubbed Operation Vortex since early this year.

His initial response was that his conscience was tranquil. He later renounced parliamentary immunity in order to be questioned, and was subsequently made “an official suspect”.

In May however without apparently telling his party, Pinto Moreira elected to return to parliament.

It was at this point that PSD leader Luís Montenegro withdrew the party’s confidence in the MP.

Now that he faces criminal charges, it is automatic that Pinto Moreira is suspended from parliament for a second time, a source for the PSD has confirmed to Lusa.

Reports say Pinto Moreira has had to lodge €200,000 bail and is forbidden from contacting any other of Vortex’s other defendants.

According to Expresso, the Public Prosecutor’s dispatch, detailing the charges against him, allege that Pinto Moreira “demanded €25,000 from businessman Francisco Pessegueiro – also among the accused – for each real estate project in which he ‘facilitated the licensing of works’. 

“Pinto Moreira used his political influence, according to the public prosecutions office, to exert pressure on senior officials of the Portuguese Environment Agency and also of the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority (ANEPC). The aim was to speed up the approval of construction processes within the Pessegueiro sphere”, the paper continues.

“Even after losing the elections in the October 2021 municipalities to Socialist Miguel Reis – also accused in this case, for four crimes of passive corruption and five of prevarication – the Social Democrat continued to closely monitor the progress of the works in which he gave the green light as mayor, maintaining close contacts with Pessegueiro and “following everything that matters”.

The situation is just another in which a politician (or person facing charges) claims to be tranquil (with a clear conscience) only to face extremely serious charges later down the line.

For further details on what Vortex is all about, click here and scroll to the last section.

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