Intention is to ask questions João Gomes Cravinho “hasn’t answered”
PSD Social Democrats have 30 questions they want to ask João Gomes Cravinho – Portugal’s former minister of defence, now minister for foreign affairs.
The context is “Operation Perfect Storm” – a criminal investigation into actions suspected of “damaging the Portuguese State to the tune of many thousands of euros…”
According to Lusa, the PSD is using today’s meeting of the defence committee to ask questions that it feels were not answered during the emergency debate on this issue in parliament, called by CHEGA, just before Christmas.
The party is also hoping to be able to question the current Secretary of State for Defence, Marco Capitão Ferreira.
Lusa explains that “according to the PSD, Gomes Cravinho should clarify when exactly he discovered that rehabilitation works at the former Military Hospital of Belém had gone three times over budget, and, “if he did not authorize” this tripling of expenditure, “who did?”
Several questions will focus on the audit of the Inspectorate General of National Defence, says the State news agency: “what reasons justified (the audit) remaining unsent to the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) for 6 months” and “what were the reasons for having decided to keep (it) classified as confidential, even after the issuing of an opinion by the Commission for Access to Administrative Documents (CADA)?”
The PSD also wants to know “why it was not determined to open disciplinary proceedings against director-general of National Defence Resources” Alberto Coelho – who in 2021 was not reappointed to this position, but was later appointed to the board of Empordef Information Technologies (ETI), and who is now one of the defendants in “Perfect Storm”.
“The social democrats question the motives that led to the appointment of Alberto Coelho to the board of ETI “given the doubts” that arose (about him), and want to know “what further steps” Gomes Cravinho took “regarding the future of the former Belém Military Hospital”.
João Gomes Cravinho, was Minister of National Defence between 2018 and 2022.
According to PJ judicial police, Operation “Perfect Storm” is “a criminal investigation whose purpose is to find out the possible practice, among others, of active and passive corruption crimes, embezzlement, economic participation in business, abuse of power and money laundering, offences related to contracts awarded, by the Central Administration body, to several companies, which harmed the Portuguese State by many thousands of euros”.
At stake are expenses of around €3.2 million in construction work for converting the old Military Hospital of Belém to a support centre for Covid-19.
Slippage from the original budget of €750,000 was revealed by an audit by the General Inspection of National Defence (IGDN), “which targeted Alberto Coelho’s actions.
“The operation led to five arrests, including Alberto Coelho’s, and the formation of a total of 19 defendants.
“After leaving the Directorate-General of National Defence Resources, Alberto Coelho chaired the board of directors of ETI (EMPORDEF – Tecnologias de Informação, S.A) between 08 June 2021 and 31 July 2022, before requesting retirement”, adds Lusa.