Tutti Frutti – or ‘Tutti Corrupti”: new investigation into alleged institutional corruption

As if we already didn’t have enough corruption investigations with odd names, ‘tutti frutti’, or as one respected commentator has dubbed it: “tutti corrupti”, has been added to the pile.

Writing in Público this morning João Miguel Tavares believes the allegations amount to “an authentic political, financial and judicial earthquake”.

What are they all about? According to tabloid Correio da Manhã they (finally) lift the lid on the endemic culture of “jobs for the boys” that runs through Portugal’s leading political parties.

In this instance, CM claims that “as soon as” Lisbon mayor Fernando Medina won his position last year, he is “suspected of having negotiated with PSD MP Sérgio Azevedo the distribution of Socialist ‘boys’ in PSD council positions, at the same time as Social Democrat ‘boys’ were given employment in council seats won by PS Socialists”.

The job specifications were largely described as “advisors” but “in many cases” they were fictitious.

Says CM: “There are dozens of advisors in the parish councils, council and Lisbon’s municipal assembly that have never provided any services – have never even showed up for work. They receive between two and three thousand euros net per month”.

“These are false positions, some of them low-grade technicians fictitiously portrayed as architects or engineers in a scheme mounted by Sérgio Azevedo in collusion with various councilmen”, the paper continues.

There are also suspicions that the money that pays all these supposedly fictitious advisors comes from a large “saco azul” (meaning a stash of illicit money) used for other ‘schemes’, says CM.

The investigation is in the hands of the PJ’s anti-corruption unit and yesterday saw hundreds of agents of the law take part in at least 70 searches of homes, headquarters, law firms and council offices up and down the country (click here).

CM says Sérgio Azevedo and other councilmen are also suspected of running another ‘scheme’ in collusion with building contractor Carlos Reis.

This scheme allegedly involved “fragmenting” the value of dozens of public works contracts so that they could be awarded – without recourse to tender – to Reis’ company Ambigold.

Needless to say, Lisbon’s mayor has denied the allegations (saying they are “completely false”) and the PSD’s secretary general José Silvano has stressed that ‘political sanctions’ will only follow once the whole business has passed through the courts, and “exhausted all channels of appeal”.

As anyone who has followed any ‘major corruption investigation’ in Portugal will know, this could take years.

But from a party whose leader vowed to combat corruption, leader writer Henrique Machado suggests Silvano’s words display a “political autism”.

Meantime, PSD leader Rui Rio is in Angola where he has recently been photographed shaking hands with the country’s president saying relations between Portugal and the African nation are now “an open road”.

[email protected]