Government assailed by new case of corruption at Interior Ministry

Following hot on the heels of the investigation into Golden Visa fraud – and months before the country goes to the polls to show how it feels about this PSD/CDS-PP government – yet another shocking case of corruption at the Interior Ministry has hit the headlines.

It is presented as the ‘real story’ behind the news last month that former secretary of state Fernando Alexandre had resigned for “personal reasons” and was not likely to be replaced.

National tabloid Correio da Manhã reveals that Alexandre was in fact played as a patsy while almost €6 million in “nudge-nudge wink-wink” public works contracts were passed under his nose “without a second thought”.

Securing the deals was former MAI director João Alberto Correia, now under investigation for a total of 69 crimes, 32 of which are understood to involve passive corruption.

According to CM, “days before he resigned” Alexandre was interviewed by DCIAP investigators and “confronted with the fact that he had allowed serial malpractice since arriving in the government in April 2013”.

The proof, claims the paper, lies in the fact that he clearly had no “confidence” in Correia because, bit by bit, he removed Correia’s power.

First the former director was allowed to authorise expenses of up to a million euros. This then fell to €500,000 and, finally, it was set at €100,000 before Correia left the ministry of his own accord in February last year.

As CM points out, Correia was never fired – though two months later he was arrested for running what the PJ’s corruption squad claims was an elaborate scheme favouring business friends – most of them “brother Masons” – in as many as 70 public works contracts.

Unsurprisingly, CM reports that it has failed to get a commentary from Alexandre – now said to be a key witness in the DCIAP case against Correia.

In all, 11 defendants stand accused in this latest scandal which takes the number of investigations launched into government malpractice recently almost through the roof.

According to CM, Correia benefited heavily from nodding through all the works contracts – in fact, everyone involved benefited “other than the State”, which is said to have been “damaged” to the tune of at least €900,000.

The details of the scheme will now start emerging, but if initial reports are anything to go by, they centre on the contracts being “broken up” into small values – always below €150,000 – so that they were not scrutinised by the Accounts Court, and so that they managed to dodge the requirement to go to public tender.

All the businesses involved were “managed, controlled or in some way connected” to friends of Correia who then “agreed inflated prices with them” before nodding the deals through “without a second thought” for what Fernando Alexandre may or may not have had to say.

The revelations look set to continue.

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