The former director of the department of Public Works and Urban Affairs at Portimão Câmara, Alberto Estêvão, has been jailed for a period of three-and-a-half years. He was convicted on May 5 on a charge of ‘passive corruption’ after the court heard a tape recording of a conversation implicating Estêvão in the acceptance of bribes. Four other men who were accused of corruption were acquitted.
At the heart of the dispute was a 1.8 hectare piece of land in Ribeiro-Amoreiras, Alvor, which was acquired in 1986 by Vítor Matos, with a view to dividing it into 10 plots for sale. The architectural infrastructure project began in April 1988, when Matos soon discovered that the process of dividing it was arduous, as well as costly. And, it was only in 1999 that the project was finally completed.
Alberto Estêvão, received the equivalent of 3,000 euros on May 7, 1991 from Matos, to correct the legality of some of the documents for the land. The court confirmed the cheque “was deposited on the same day into the bank account of the parents-in-law of the accused.” In total, over the course of the project, Estêvão asked for bribes amounting to 7,500 euros. He was paid to speed up the paperwork as well as to recommend people to aid Matos and his project. When he asked for money, Matos began recording their conversations.
At one point, after discovering the existence of these tapes, Estêvão, Luís Fernandes – the director of Urban Maintenance, Water and Waste, an architect called João Paulo Nunes, who is currently the director of the Public Works and Services for the Portimão Câmara, launched a counter action against Matos in order to silence him and stop the tapes being aired. Though their case was thrown out, the information proved invaluable to the authorities in building a case against the accused.
In 2001, the case against Estêvão was dismissed, and despite this decision being contested the case was still not heard. Finally, the case was heard this month at the criminal court of Portimão, resulting in a guilty verdict for Estevão and a sentence of three-and-a-half years in prison. It could be two-and-a-half-years before he gets parole. All of the acquitted have refused to comment about the case.