National strategy to combat corruption and ‘save €18.2 billion a year’ approved ahead of whistleblower trial

Less than a day before the trial of whistleblower Rui Pinto opened in Lisbon, the Council of Ministers finally approved Portugal’s ‘national strategy for the combat of corruption’.

Says ECO online, it’s a package aimed at “avoiding State expenditure of €18.2 billion a year”, and will run from now until 2024.

One of its cornerstones will be a whistleblowers’ charter – legally protecting people who come forwards to denounce corruption in organisations they may be involved in.

Stresses ECO, this is not actually the case with Rui Pinto – who came by his explosive information ‘through illicit acts’ (in this case, computer ‘hacking’). But Pinto is claiming whistleblower status, and he has some extremely powerful supporters behind him (click here).

Justice minister Francisco van Dunem alluded to the whistleblowers’ charter earlier this year (click here)

The dossier was given to a working group which only presented its conclusions in July.

According to ECO, the group pointed to annual ‘losses to the State’ of €18.2 billion, through corruption and money-laundering – all of which have to be ‘paid’ in the end by taxpayers.

The new combat strategy will include education in schools and universities to show the damages created by corruption, and aim to bring private companies into line, so that they are seen to be actively addressing endemic threats of mismanagement within them.

The strategy has still to be discussed in parliament, but the fact that it has been approved ahead of the Rui Pinto trial is significant.

Young Mr Pinto meantime is already in court and has made a short statement to affirm that his whistleblowing days are over.

Media sources covering the trial say he has declared: “My work as a whistleblower is finished. I have never received money for what I did. I am not a hacker, I am a whistleblower. I made a lot of important information public that otherwise would never have been known”.

He remains however in a “strange situation”, the 31-year-old agrees. “I am both a defendant and protected witness. I have been the target of a campaign of lies and defamation. I have been in prison for a year and a half, seven months of which were spent in isolation. It has been very tough”.

Say reports, the security protecting Rui Pinto is on a scale ‘never before seen in Portugal”.

Updates on the trial will come as it develops.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com