PJ investigates allegations of Air Force Mess corruption

Breaking news this morning is the investigation by PJ police of an alleged “fraudulent scheme between suppliers and Air Force sergeants and Mess officials”.

At issue are ‘inflated food orders’.

According to RTP3 it has been a way for “sergeants, officials and suppliers to illicitly appropriate additional funds”.

These so-called fiddles have been committed, say reports, on bases at Monte Real, Montijo, Ota, Sintra, Alfragide, Monsanto, Figo Maduro, Beja and Alcochete.

So far at least six military personnel have been arrested on charges including active and passive corruption and falsification of documents.

Television reports suggest “there are many more arrests to come”.

It is an investigation that goes back almost two years and was initiated by an ‘anonymous tip off’, explains noticiasaominuto.

As we write, searches (at least 80 of suspects homes, and 25 ‘non-domiciliary’) are said to be going on throughout the country, with over 400 personnel involved, including public ministry officials and PJ police.

Says a statement issued by the Attorney General’s office: “The inquiry is investigating suspicions that since 2015 at least various, messes have been supplied with food, for which the Air Force has been later overcharged. This would have happened as the result of an agreement between the military personnel who worked in the messes, the food suppliers and an element in charge of checking food in said messes who worked within the Air Force department”.

“As a result of the collusion between these people, suppliers from various companies delivered determined quantities of good but the value charged, at the end of each month, would have been three times higher than that of the goods delivered.

“The difference” – which is certain to run into hundreds of thousands of euros – “will have been divided by all those involved”.

For now, there has been no indication of the sums of money involved in what has been dubbed by authorities as Operation Zeus, but this will doubtless emerge over the course of the day.

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