President Marcelo
Image: Horácio Villalobos/ SIC Notícias

President’s son in new controversy

Nuno Rebelo de Sousa already deeply implicated in Brazilian twins favoritism row

With no day passing without another angle to the ‘favoritism row’ that has seen Portugal’s president issue multiple ‘denials’ that he had anything to do with it, today’s sees another less than exemplary incident in which the name of the president’s son, Nuno, has surfaced.

Nuno Rebelo de Sousa – referred to by his father as Dr Nuno Rebelo de Sousa, leading to a degree of satirical lampooning – is already seen as the principal player in the twins’ controversy: it was he who initially asked for his father’s help, as the country’s president – and he who went on to have numerous conversations in this regard with members of his father’s presidential team, and with figures at the health ministry.

Now, de Sousa junior is mentioned with regard to “trying to intervene in a deal between the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (the charity that runs various lotteries/ gambling games) and the Banco de Brasília”.

According to SIC Notícias today, Dr Nuno’s intention was to explore possible ways to make money through the deal.

But the deal, announced in April this year, was actually suspended a few months later, and then definitively cancelled in October – by the head of Santa Casa da Misericórdia, former health minister Ana Jorge, as, according to her, she “didn’t want to waste any more money”.

Before the deal was summarily shut down, Dr Nuno ‘reached out’ to Minister of Work Ana Mendes Godinho, as well as the Banco de Brasília. He wanted to get both ‘round the table’ to discuss his ideas. Ms Mendes Godinho said she refused the invitation

None of this would mean a thing, were it not for the fact that the episode – more specifically the ‘deal’ that Ana Jorge eventually shut down – is being investigated by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, over suspicions of irregularities “with the Portuguese State risking losing €50 million”, writes ECO online.

Even this is not crystal clear: other reports suggest the loss may be more in the region of €30 million. 

Whatever the exact figure, the potential losses are high.

Negocios online puts some flesh on the bones explaining that the deal involved ‘internationalising Santa Casa da Misericórdia’ to the extent that a new entity, Santa Casa Global was created.

Santa Casa Global “had authorisation to apply €5 million in the internationalisation project, but transfers took place of more than €27 million”.

In Brazil, an audit undertaken by international consultancy BDO, “discovered a complex network of more than a dozen societies and shareholders”.

In other words, the deal looked distinctly murky – hence Ana Jorge’s decision to pull out of it.

But in the context that Dr Nuno is already being seen, in Portugal at least, as the prime mover in the favoritism row that is reflecting badly on his father, another controversy is not doing him any favours.

Political parties have already called (unsuccessfully) for Dr Nuno to address questions about the favoritism row in parliament. Tabloid Correio da Manhã says today that it has tried to contact him about his involvement in the Santa Casa da Misericórdia business, but “without success”. The son of President Marcelo “continues in silence”, says the paper.

Satirical show pokes fun at Marcelo’s reference to his son as Dr Nuno

Satirical show Isto é Gozar com quem Trabalha has had no shortage of material in recent weeks. Last week, it had its audience in stitches over the president’s constant referrals to his own son as Dr Nuno Rebelo de Sousa. The show’s host asked members of the  audience, who had brought their own children along, to name their offspring. These duly introduced their young children, keeping poker straight faces,  as “Dr Francisco/ Engenheiro Duarte/ Arquiteta Rita” etc., to increasing laughter. The point was made: everyday folk do not tend to refer to their children using titles.

Irrespective of the fact that President Marcelo insists that he treats Dr Nuno as he would “any other citizen”, journalist Sandra Felgueiras – the reporter whose team ‘broke the twins’ favoritism controversy’ says Dr Nuno is “well known” in Brazil “for being the son of Marcelo and this allows him to have various contacts”.

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