The embarrassing Raríssimas scandal (click here) that has already led to the resignation of a secretary of state amid renewed criticism of the ‘old boy network’ active within Portugal’s political establishment shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon.
This morning, PJ police led searches at the home of the social solidarity institute’s founder, the woman at the centre of controversy, Paula Brito e Costa who is now an official suspect (see update below).
Investigators were also conducting searches at Casa dos Marcos – the residential home run by Raríssimas – and at the office of former secretary of state for health Manuel Delgado.
Says Diário de Notícias, dozens of inspectors attached to the national unit against corruption are involved as part of the inquiry opened at Lisbon’s department of investigation and penal action (DIAP).
The contents of Paula Brito e Costa’s computer are being analysed, says the paper – stressing that the inquiry centres on allegations thrown up in a TV exposé that association money had been used on private luxuries.
Brito e Costa, who has denounced the situation as a “well mounted cabal” against her was actually in Casa dos Marcos yesterday, ostensibly to work in her capacity as director general.
Her presence sparked staff protests, and she was filmed leaving the building shortly after 5pm with her husband beside her in a car, with his face “completely covered” with the hood of his jacket.
A Casa dos Marcos board member then addressed journalists outside the building saying that Brito e Costa had been placed under a 30-day suspension for “indications of illicit working practices”.
The DIAP inquiry will now work within that timeframe to try and establish whether there has been all the management malpractice that TVI’s report suggested.
SIC television news reports that Paula Brito e Costa is now an official suspect in this investigation which, it says, centres on “suspicions of the ilicit use of money”. As an “arguida”, SIC’s reporter Elsa Gonçalves says that Paula Brito e Costa faces allegations of embezzlement, falsification and improper use of money. The former Raríssimas ‘heroine’ is now barred from entering Casa dos Marcos while the police investigation continues. Families whose children are supported by the association are nevertheless free to come and go as business goes on as much as possible “as usual”.