The official residence of the Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, was one of the more than 40 places registered this Tuesday by the Police in an operation together with the Portuguese Prosecutor’s Office that is investigating businesses in the hydrogen and lithium sector, according to local media.
The inspections have also been extended to the Ministries of Infrastructure and the Environment and have led to several arrests.
Among them, that of Costa’s chief of staff, Vítor Escária, that of a Costa consultant, Lacerda Machado, and that of the mayor of Sines, the socialist Nuno Mascarenhas, according to the Portuguese media Público.
The same sources reported that the Minister of the Environment, Duarto Cordeiro, and the Minister of Infrastructure, João Galamba, as well as the former Minister of the Environment João Pedro Matos Fernandes, are declared “arguidos” (formal suspects, a figure prior to the accusation).
The cause would be the lithium exploitation projects in Montalegre, in the north of Portugal, due to a possible favor from the Portuguese Government to companies, according to the Portuguese press.
According to the Portuguese newspaper Público, the offices of the ministers of the Environment and Climate Transition and of Infrastructure are being searched, and Duarte Cordeiro and João Galamba will be charged. The same will happen with the former Minister of the Environment João Pedro Matos Fernandes, according to the Portuguese newspaper.
The prime minister’s press office has confirmed that Vítor Escária’s office has been searched, adding that there is no comment on the judicial action. “We confirm that the office of the chief of staff has been searched. We do not comment on the judicial action,” declared a source from António Costa’s cabinet to the Lusa news agency.
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Action also confirmed that police had searched its premises. An official source from Duarte Cordeiro’s ministry told Público, however, that they still did not know the reason for the search. “The authorities are carrying out searches inside the town hall building and all employees are outside,” said a source from the Sines local authority, according to whom the Public Ministry is still waiting to arrive.
Público also says that at the beginning of January, the Attorney General’s Office confirmed that the DCIAP (Central Department of Investigation and Criminal Action) was carrying out a secret investigation into “the so-called lithium and green hydrogen businesses.”
At that time, asked by Público, João Galamba responded: “I have never been heard to talk about this absurd process, precisely because it is absurd and empty.”
The news that João Galamba, who was still Secretary of State for the Environment and Energy under Minister Matos Fernandes, and former Economy Minister Pedro Siza Vieira were being investigated for the green hydrogen projects in Sines dates back to November last year. , in an investigation that looked for “indications of influence peddling and corruption, among other economic and financial crimes,” according to Sábado magazine.
However, Pedro Siza Vieira has been removed from the list of those investigated.
The magazine also stated that both leaders (at that time) were “suspected of favoring the EDP/Galp/REN consortium in the million-dollar green hydrogen project for Sines” (which has since collapsed).