The operation investigates an alleged irregular lithium and green hydrogen exploration scheme by the Portuguese government. (Understand more below)
The transcription of the recording, made from a conversation between a consultant and an administrator from the company Start Campus, would have confused the prime minister with Portugal’s economy minister, António Costa Silva.
The statement was made to journalists by Manuel Magalhães e Silva, lawyer for one of those investigated, consultant Diogo Lacerda Machado.
According to the lawyer, the mistake occurred due to the omission of the Portuguese economy minister’s surname.
This is because, during the conversation, Machado would have received a request from the administrator of Start Campus, Afonso Salema, to ask the European Commission to change the economic activity standards for data centers.
Machado then responded that he would try to “decipher” in which ministry the issue would need to be addressed. “If it’s finances, I’ll talk to Medina right away [ministro das Finanças português] or with António Mendes, who is Secretary of State. If it’s economy, I’ll find a way after getting to António Costa himself [nesse caso, referindo-se ao ministro da Economia]”, he said.
The announcement of the corruption investigation last week caused the prime minister to resign. He remains interim ruler until March, when the country will have early elections.
O g1 He sought out the Portuguese Public Prosecutor’s Office to find out if the body recognizes the error and more details about the effects of this on the investigation and the next steps of the operation, but received no response until the last publication of this report.
The alleged scheme and operation
Three different projects in total are investigated in the same case:
- Lithium exploration concessions in the Romano mines, in the village of Montealegre, and Barroso, in the municipality of Boticas. Both are in the north of the country;
- A project for a hydrogen energy production plant in the city of Sines;
- A project for the construction of a datacenter, also in Sines, by the company Start Campus.
Also according to the Portuguese PGR, the police operation carried out on the morning of November 7 carried out 42 search and seizure warrants, including:
- The headquarters of the Ministry of Infrastructure;
- The headquarters of the Ministry of Environment;
- The State Secretariat for Energy and Climate;
- Companies investigated in the case.
In addition to the prime minister, the Portuguese Public Ministry also stated that the Minister of Infrastructure of Portugal, João Galamba, is one of those investigated in the case. It was the first time prosecutors named suspects from the beginning.
The announcement of the investigation into corruption made the Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, resign from his position. He remains interim ruler until March, when the country will have early elections.
“Obviously I submitted my resignation,” Costa said in a statement to the country last week, in which he denied involvement in the irregularities. “I close with my head held high. The practice of any illicit act or even any censored act does not weigh on my conscience.”
António Costa will continue to be investigated by the inquiry, which, according to the PGR, runs independently at the Supreme Court of Justice of Portugal.
It is worth remembering that, under Portuguese law, the prime minister would not need to resign even if he is the target of an investigation. Only if he were formally accused by the Public Ministry, would his dismissal be evaluated by the country’s Chamber of Deputies.
After a custody hearing, all those detained in the operation on the alleged corruption scheme have already been released. Portugal’s Public Ministry also dropped charges of corruption and malfeasance. But he maintained that of influence peddling.