Suspicions of fiscal fraud and money laundering said to be behind today's searches of Mário Ferreira's cruise line company, Douro Azul

Searches at Douro Azul – cruise ship company of media mogul Mário Ferreira

Suspicions of tax fraud and money laundering at issue

Media mogul Mário Ferreira has been in the news a great deal recently. Most notably due to his pursuit of former MEP Ana Gomes who has repeatedly alleged ‘corruption’ in the ‘bargain-basement’ sale of the cruise ship Atlântida to one of his companies, only to be sold on shortly afterwards at a thumping profit.

That is ‘an old story’ that has been festering away for years.

The latest ‘news’ came earlier this week in the form of a massive bung to another of the  companies in Mr Ferreira’s empire – representing over half the community funding that has arrived in Portugal under the auspices of a post-Covid ‘strategic recapitalisation fund’.

And today news of the ‘searches’ at the very company at the forefront of the defamation case against Ana Gomes: Douro Azul.

They began early this morning, led by DCIAP (the department of criminal investigation and penal action) and AT (the taxation authority), report SIC and CM TV – while Mário Ferreira, presented always as “the boss of TVI”, has taken to social media to insist that he is “not accused of anything” nor has he been made an ‘arguido’ (official suspect) in any court process.

In a post over Facebook, he has alluded to his “friend” Paulo Fernandes (president of the Cofina group, of which Correio da Manhã is part) having promised to “destroy” Ferreira’s life if he advanced with the purchase of Media Capital (which he did).

“Today his Correio da Manhã once more launches a ferocious attack. They know I am not accused of anything. The combination of Ana Gomes sending letters with false accusations, and CM taking advantage of the news, seems to them to be a virtuous model for selling newspapers… To my “friend” Paulo I will always respond with work done, and will never do to him what I don’t like them doing to me…”

Of yesterday’s media stories, Mr Ferreira wrote a long piece again over Facebook, lamenting “The Portugal of the little people who despise entrepreneurs and praise the mangoes of the alpaca…” outlining how rigorous the application of community funding for the company in his portfolio which has received over €40 million in support had been.

Some might say, ‘there is no smoke without fire’: could today’s searches, which have apparently taken place in Porto, Funchal, Malta, and in lawyers’ offices, simply have been sparked by a spiteful media campaign and false assertions of a former MEP?

This is what we may soon find out.

Certainly, the last court hearing with regard to Ana Gomes’ defamation proesecution saw the former president of EMPORDEF and leader of the liquidating committee for Viana do Castelo shipyards (ENVC) attest to “high corruption” in the boat’s sale to the Douro Azul cruise shipping company.

High corruption “that involved serving politicians, the ENVC administrative board, the sale’s jury, Banco Espírito Santo and the purchaser”, said João Pedro Martins. 

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