As political scandals go, the Tecnoforma embarrassment – suggesting Portuguese prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho benefitted from backhander bungs for his work as president of an NGO designed to get EC funding for the company – kind of came and went, with very little in the way of real mud seemingly sticking anywhere.
But today, the story is back on the national stage as the Tribunal of Criminal Instruction in Lisbon ruled that it would not be taking the government’s development minister Poiares Maduro to task for defamation of Tecnoforma, nor would it be taking further action over comments made by TV personality Pacheco Pereira or Expresso journalist Clara Ferreira Alves.
According to State-funded news agency Lusa, Tecnoforma will be appealing the decision – and so the confusing scandal is back in the public eye weeks before what are seen as crucial legislative elections.
As with everything in politics today, timing would appear to be central.
When Público carried the story of Tecnoforma’s defamation bid, it stressed that the services company refused to give many details.
Lawyers simply explained it had to do with “public statements” that had been made about “the case relating to alleged payments to Pedro Passos Coelho”.
Cited alongside the three defendants were Euro MP Ana Gomes and Público reporter José António Cerejo.
Harking back to Poiares Maduro’s ‘public statements’, Público explained he said “fraud is always possible” in situations of professional training.
He was replying at the time to the “challenge made by Clara Ferreira Alves”, in which the Expresso reporter said: “Professional training without impact reminds me straight away of Tecnoforma, of the prime minister and your predecessor Miguel Relvas. Tecnoforma never gave professional training. There are many fake companies, that simply set out to draw funds”.
The words were seen by Tecnoforma as a slur against the company’s “honour and consideration”, and thus the lawsuit that has now found TIC judges deciding it is much ado about nothing.
Lusa writes that Judge Maria Antónia Andrade thought Pereira and Alves were simply exercising their rights to free speech, while Poiares Maduro was not even referring to Tecnoforma.
As to the other personalities involved, there is as yet no information.
And quite what MPs make of this ruling is also yet to be seen.
Taking the bull by the horns in this controversy, national tabloid Correio da Manhã explains background allegations that Miguel Relvas had helped Tecnoforma out with €1.2 million for “training exercises directed towards aerodrome staff” – the money of which had come from the government’s “Foral” programme.