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Public Ministry of Portugal makes mistakes in case that led prime minister to resign

The Public Prosecutor’s Office of Portugal made a mistake in the transcription of a wiretap that led to the country’s prime minister, Antonio Costa to resign from his position.

According to an investigation by the CNN Portugal, two investigated talked about gaining influence with “Antonio Costa” to favor the company Start Campus for the construction of data centers in a telephone conversation. The ministry understood that the reference was to the Prime Minister when, in fact, it was to Antonio Costa Silva, Minister of Economy of Portugal.

According to sources linked to the defendants’ defense, the omission of the Economy Minister’s last surname in the indictment, which became public, generated the perception that Diogo Lacerda Machado, consultant at Start Campus, was referring to the prime minister in the telephone call.

During the judicial interrogations with Machado, the Public Ministry acknowledged that the transcription of the wiretap was incorrect.

The August 31, 2022 listening to the conversation shows that Afonso Salema, company administrator, asked the consultant to approach the government. The objective was for the Union to make a request to the European Commission for a change in an article about data centers, which would benefit Start Campus.

Lacerda Machado replied: “Okay. I will decipher whether it is with Economy or Finance. If it’s Finance, I’ll talk to Medina (minister) or António Mendes, who is the Secretary of State. If it’s Economy, I’ll find a way after getting to António Costa himself.”

Machado’s defense told journalists last Saturday (11) that at no point in the process regarding the specific date did the client “directly or indirectly” mention the name of the prime minister.

Also on Saturday, the former prime minister reiterated that those being investigated did not have any approval from her to do “anything whatsoever”.

Remember the case

The Public Ministry of Portugal is investigating a corruption and influence peddling scandal in lithium exploration concessions in the north of the country, a project to create a hydrogen plant in the port of Sines and investment in a data center in the region. With 60,000 tonnes of known reserves, Portugal is already Europe’s largest lithium producer.

The suspicion is that crimes of malfeasance, active and passive corruption of politicians and influence peddling have been committed, said the Portuguese MP in a statement.

Last Tuesday (7), several government buildings were searched and seized, including the official residence of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of the Environment and the home of the Minister of Infrastructure, João Galamba.

After the operation, Costa announced his resignation in a television statement after formally presenting it to President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. In his speech, the Prime Minister stated that he was “fully available to cooperate” with the Court.

Despite his resignation, António Costa remains in office until the general elections in March 2024.

Source: CNN Brasil

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