Police swoop on câmara .jpg

Police swoop on câmara

By: Chris Graeme

chris@portugalresident.com

Lisbon Câmara is being investigated on suspicion of corruption and being involved in illegal business deals.

Fifty police inspectors from Lisbon’s Polícia Judiciária (PJ) and six Ministério Publico magistrates searched the offices of Lisbon Câmara President Carmona Rodrigues, Vice President Fontão de Carvalho, Urban Planning Officer Gabriela Seara, câmara owned businesses in the city and homes of câmara officers and administrators on the morning of January 23.

It is the second time in six months that police have raided the offices of Lisbon Câmara on the suspicion of trading favours, backhanders and corruption.

As reported during the summer of 2006 by The Resident, Lisbon Câmara had been visited by PJ officers over the alleged unlicensed development of a block of luxury apartments by developer Vítor Santos on Avenida Infante Santos.

This time, the investigation is aimed at land exchanges for the site occupied by the former Feira Popular (Popular Fair) at Entre Campos and the Lisbon theatre-land site off Avenida da Liberdade at Parque Mayer made between the fairground development company Bragaparques of Braga.

The raids on January 23, happened days after the Ministério Publico accused the managing associate partner of Bragaparques on Janaury 12, of having “tried to corrupt left-wing câmara officer José Sá Fernandes”.

Corruption

The company’s manager hinted at paying José Sá Fernandes’ brother Ricardo Sá Fernandes, a lawyer, 200,000 euros in order for the câmara officer to desist from contesting the Feira Popular re-development project.

The case, according to Portuguese television station SIC, goes back to July 5, 2005, when a contract was signed between Bragaparques and Lisbon Câmara, then lead by Pedro Santana Lopes.

That involved an exchange of properties whereby Bragaparques, owned by Domingos Névoa, would give up a plot of land at Parque Mayer in exchange for another owned by the câmara at the former Feira Popular site.

Portuguese national daily newspaper, Diário de Notícias, revealed that Domingos Névoa had a meeting with Carmona Rodrigues a few days after the first news of the alleged corruption scandal between Bragaparques and the câmara officer’s brother, hit the headlines on February 18, 2006.

The PJ detected an exchange of mobile phone messages between Névoa and Carmona Rodrigues arranging a meeting at the câmara offices. The PJ later confirmed that the meeting did take place.

Hours after the meeting, the câmara’s Municipal Executive approved “unanimously” a motion to deny and “display indignation and amazement” at the news that a “câmara officer had allegedly been the target of attempted bribery”.

Confronted by Diário de Notícias with the information, the Mayor of Lisbon’s Office issued a statement to the press confirming the facts.

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