Prime Minister of Portugal resigns after being accused of corruption

(CNN) — Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa has submitted his resignation after the country’s Attorney General’s Office (PGR) said he was being investigated in connection with a wide-ranging corruption case involving members of his government.

“I was surprised by the information officially confirmed by the press office of the Attorney General’s Office that a criminal investigation is going to be opened against me,” he declared at a press conference on Tuesday, confirming that he had a clear conscience. Willing to cooperate with the authorities. “Under these circumstances, I have openly tendered my resignation to the President.”

Costa, the General Secretary of the Portuguese Socialist Party, has been Prime Minister of Portugal since 2015. He was re-elected to the post on January 30, 2022 with an absolute majority.

It was learned earlier Tuesday that Costa is being investigated in a corruption case involving his government after the Attorney General’s Office issued an arrest warrant against his chief of staff and named one of his ministers as a formal suspect.

Authorities are investigating possible cases of corruption, preemption and influence in decisions related to the construction of two lithium mines (Romano, Montalegre and Barroso, Potigas), the hydrogen plant in Sines and the generation of data. The center of the “Start Campus” group is also located in Sains. During the investigation, the PGR says the suspects told authorities that Costa may have intervened to “obstruct” some of the proceedings under investigation.

“Those notes [al primer ministro y su presunta intervención] The analysis will be conducted autonomously within the ambit of the inquiry initiated by the Supreme Court,” the PGR statement said.

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Arrests due to investigation in Portugal

Five people have been arrested in connection with the investigation, including Vitor Escaria, the prime minister’s chief of staff, and Nuno Mascarenhas, the mayor of the southern coastal city of Sines.

“Taking into account the elements collected during the investigation, the flight, continuation of criminal activities, interference with the investigation and the risk of disturbing the peace and tranquility, the Public Ministry has issued arrest warrants outside Florante delicto. The Prime Minister’s staff, the mayor of Sines, the two administrators of the ‘Start Campus’ group and those A lawyer/consultant employed by the company,” read the PGR report.

In addition to the five detained, another government minister and a public official have been named as formal suspects in the investigation, although no charges have yet been filed.

“The Ministry of Public Works established as defendants (formal suspects) other suspects who had committed the acts under investigation, namely, the Minister of Infrastructure. [João Galamba] and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Portuguese Ecosystem [Nuno Lacasta]” adds the report.

Kalamba was the Energy Secretary when some of the investigated contracts were awarded.

As part of the investigation, authorities began raids on Tuesday at several dozen locations, including 17 homes, five lawyers’ offices or homes, 20 non-home searches, two ministries – the environment and infrastructure – and the prime minister’s chiefly used offices. of employees, PGR said.

In total, 154 Portuguese police and treasury agents, 17 prosecutors from the Public Ministry and three judicial magistrates participated in these operations.

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Portuguese subsidiary cnn Costa met Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Souza twice this Tuesday and both finalized their agendas for the day, according to reports.

Eden Hayes

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