Secretary of Defence resigns in wake of investigation into suspected corruption

Marco Capitão Ferreira is latest defendant in Operation Perfect Storm

PJ police conducted new searches under the auspices of Operation Perfect Storm today, resulting in the resignation of Secretary of State for Defence Marco Capitão Ferreira.

The official version of this morning’s events is that Perfect Storm involves “suspected criminal practices in the exercise of public functions, including corruption and economic participation in business”.

Mr Capitão’s home was searched, as were the offices of the General Directorate of National Defense Resources at the Ministry.

At issue are “acts committed between 2018 and 2021”.

The Ministry of Defence has “reaffirmed its full collaboration with the authorities in everything that is requested”.

The initial searches took place in December last year when three then defence ministry top dogs were arrested, along with two businessmen.

Today’s searches had the “cooperation of the Computer Technological Expertise Unit and were accompanied by two magistrates from the Lisbon Regional Detection and Prosecution Department”, with the investigation being led by the Lisbon Department of Investigation and Prosecution.

The unofficial version makes for less easily digestible soundbites. Opposition parties, for instance, are saying the equivalent of “the government can’t take another resignation…” The thumb-screws on the ‘cases’ and ‘little cases’ involving this absolute majority government are audibly turning.

Talking on SIC television news today, political commentator Bernardo Ferrão stresses: “This case has stunk for a long time. 

“Investigations began in 2018, (and) there is a lot that (in the meantime) has been heard about this secretary of State, namely the works on the Military Hospital and the slippage and how much it all cost,” he recalled, considering that what all this reveals “is a rottenness” within the State institution.

At stake are “a series of badly explained contracts, a lack of transparency (…) These last two cases, the one with the advisor that never sets foot in the Ministry (referring to an advisor to Capitão Ferreira) and the study costing €60,000 for five days of work – meaning €12,000 was paid every day with the money of Portuguese people, must be very well explained”, he said.

“The question that arises is: how did all this get past the Defence Minister João Gomes Cravinho at the time and how come nothing was understood? Was it that they didn’t want to understand?” He questioned.

Says Ferrão, the country deserves answers…and the person who should be giving them is the current Minister of Foreign Affairs João Gomes Cravinho, because he was in overall charge during the years in question.

“João Gomes Cravinho has a lot of explaining to do”, says Ferrão.

Hearings to go forwards in parliament next week:

Three of Portugal’s opposition parties, PSD, Chega and IL, called today for planned parliamentary hearing of the outgoing Secretary of State for Defence to go ahead notwithstanding the fact that he has now resigned his post – with several parties also wanting to hear the current defence minister, Helena Carreiras, and her predecessor, João Gomes Cravinho.

Iniciativa Liberal’s Rodrigo Saraiva shows his party believes both Marco Capitão Ferreira and João Gomes Cravinho “should never have entered this government” – and that a lot of blame for what seems to be an enormous lack of judgement lies with the prime minister.

Other minority parties seem to agree, with Bloco de Esquerda’s Mariana Mortágua saying that an executive “permanently managing cases large and small is too distracted to govern the country”.

All in all, Friday couldn’t really have ended on a less exhilarating note for the government, which will be holding an informal meeting of the Cabinet tomorrow, to “prepare for the debate on the State of the Nation”, which, bearing in mind everything that has been happening, will have a lot of material.

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Portugal Resident