Paulo Portas accused of “influencing” €20 million construction project

Portugal’s much-loved and now former political leader famous for what one European newspaper called his “teflon qualities” (“the dirt has never stuck”) is suddenly back in the hotseat, accused by a construction company of using his “influence” to win a €20 million project for the company that currently employs him.

According to the story carried by multiple news sources, Portas allegedly brought pressure to bear on an initial evaluation which favoured Ourém company Tecnorém over eight other bids – including a pitch from engineering giant Mota-Engil.

Jornal de Notícias claims that before Portas’ intervention, Mota-Engil was in second position for the job of building the NATO school, in Oeiras near Lisbon.

After pressure had been brought to bear on the director general of national defence resources, Mota-Engil’s bid moved into first place, and Tecnorém’s was “disqualified”.

JN claims to have approached all parties with various questions, to be told that the whole adjudication process went with “smoothness”.

Smoothness is indeed another quality of Teflon, and an adjective frequently used in respect of Paulo Portas.

Nevertheless, Tecnorém’s bid was €1.3 million more than that put forward by Mota-Engil, and thus Mota-Engil’s director of construction Pedro Arrais has said he doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.

For the time being, Tecnorém’s complaint – presented to DCIAP (central department of investigation and penal action) on February 9 – is simply a complaint. DCIAP is remaining tight-lipped about whether or not it means to open any kind of investigation, say reports.

A judicial source cited by JN claims the whole matter “is being treated with pincers” (suggesting it has the potential to be explosive).

Observador concludes that the bottom line of the saga saw Mota-Engil’s €19.5 million bid for the “Escola de NATO” approved on June 16 2016 – with the final contract signed between the company and the Ministry of Defence on March 28 this year.

Coincidentally, Portas landed his job with Mota-Engil in June 2016 as well (click here).

Journalist Paul Ames, writing for Politico, is the writer who alluded to Portas Teflon qualities in the run-up to the legislative elections in 2015.

As Ames told his readers: “Portas has been dogged for years by murky rumors linking his name to a series of scandals. The most notable involves dodgy dealings during the navy’s purchase of German submarines when he was defense minister in 2004. But the dirt has never stuck.”

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