Turismo de Portugal downplays corruption squad swoop

Turismo de Portugal has downplayed the PJ corruption squad swoop on its premises yesterday, saying it is not “directly” in the eye of the authorities.

Without alluding to the focus of police investigations – said to be a former member of the administrative board – the country’s top tourism authority said in a statement that it has shown its “total availability for collaboration with the authorities, in accordance with the values of rigour and transparency that govern its activity”.

News of the swoop started emerging towards the end of Thursday afternoon, with various media sources giving their take on developments.

The consensus was that the investigation centred on business awarded as a result of friendships – rather than merit – in a number of countries, particularly Brazil.

The ‘corruption’ is alleged to have taken place between the years of 2012-2014.

Público has researched into the members of the administrative board that remain in place since those years, and Luís Matoso – one of these – has confirmed that he has been questioned by police about “some projects” relating to Brazil, but that the investigation is nothing but lies.

“It is a calumnious denouncement by a former member of staff of Turismo de Portugal who left and didn’t like it,” Matoso told Público.

“I will make clear what there is to make clear and he will have to prove the accusations,” he added.

Público confirms that, for the time being at least, no one has been arrested, nor given ‘arguido status’ (that of an official defendant).

A search of the internet portal on public contracts awarded during the years in question have flagged four contracts awarded without tenders having gone out, writes Público.

Amounts paid total “a global value of more than €300,000”, and the highest contract was one for €190,000 given to a company by the name of Total Spin Brazil.

Total Spin Brazil’s brief was to “plan, execute and accompany a publicity campaign destined to the Brazilian market”, says the paper.

Meantime, the Attorney General’s office has confirmed that the case is running in the 9th section of the department of investigation and penal action in Lisbon (DIAP), overseen by a unit with “specialist investigators into financially-complicated economic crime”.

According to a statement, at issue are “suspicions of the practice of corruption, abuse of power and economic participation in business”, while the facts relate to “contracts awarded for events in Brazil”.

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