PJ corruption squad search Lena Group offices over new case of million-euro fraud

Group Lena – the construction company heavily implicated in the ongoing corruption scandal involving jailed former prime minister José Sócrates – has yet again been assailed by fraud squad detectives, this time over a scandal involving the multi-million abuse of State subsidies.

The company – whose top director Joaquim Barroca Rodrigues has been under house arrest suspected of fiscal fraud, money laundering and corruption since April this year – says it has no connection whatsoever to this latest fracas, which centres on a former director, Agostinho Ribeiro.

Fifty-year-old Ribeiro has been described by TVI24 as a “director of various companies”.

He is now in extremely hot water over what appears to have been a €15 million exercise in the production of hot air.

The “farce”, as national tabloid Correio da Manhã terms it, involves the supposed creation of energy from biomass (biological material from living or recently living things).

Ribeiro, along with a Spanish partner, is understood to have set up a Lisbon company which found itself showered in subsidies – to the tune of almost €15 million – on the basis that it was producing this form of energy “throughout the west”.

News services are not clear as to whether this is the west coast, or simply western areas of Portugal, but what they all agree is that nothing seems to have come out of the exercise.

“The investigation centres on activity developed by Portuguese and Spanish firms which obtained large subsidies in a fraudulent way,” a spokesman for the PJ has told reporters.

Ribeiro and his Spanish partner have been taken in for questioning and according to TVI24 this is yet another case for the country’s superjudge, Carlos Alexandre – a man with such a huge caseload these days that it is a miracle he ever gets home to bed.

Says TVI24, prosecutors allege that the two businessmen “allegedly passed false information to the State with the objective of obtaining subsidies of various millions”.

They are both suspected of fraud and face charges also of money-laundering.

As to the whereabouts of the €15 million, for now, no details are forthcoming.

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