sexta-feira, 4 de abril de 2014

Former administrator of Municipal Company convicted to three years imprisonment

Paulo Rosa Gomes, former Funchal City company Frente Mar has been convicted for the wonderfully euphemistically termed crime of 'economic participation in a business', which to all intents and purposes seems to mean embezzlement. His wife and a salesman were also convicted.

In practice, they were found to have pocketed Money for the rental of sun beds and sunshades, which is part of the business of the bathing resorts owned by the city. They were also condemned to pay Frente Mar a sum total of 68.000 Euros in damages, corresponding to the amount that they allegedly pocketed.

Rosa Gomes left Frente Mar in 2007 and remained advisor to the former Mayor, Miguel Albuquerque, until the end of his term in office, last year.

The jude said that the justice system could not be seen to be soft on powerful people, especially where white colar crime is concerned. Rosa Gomes is expected to appeal the sentence.

Source: DN

quinta-feira, 3 de abril de 2014

Ports Monopoly Discussed with EuroMPs

Last week I had occasion to attend a most interesting meeting held by the Madeira Chamber of Commerce, ACIF, at the City Hall: an event where local businessmen would have the opportunity to meet with and brief a group of EuroMPs of the Commission of Transport and Tourism, among whom were Nuno Teixeira, João Ferreira (Communist Party), Mathieu Grosch, EPP, Belgium and Zita Gourmai, Socialists, Hungary.

Towards the end of the meeting, I briefed the MEPs on the ports monopoly (in English so as not to tire the translators): that we are dependent on the ports for 80% of what we consume; that they are one of the most expensive ports in Europe, thanks to the Sousa monopoly; that the government receives not a cent from this operation and that despite Government claims to the contrary, the ports operation was a de facto monopoly.

Step forward Duarte Rodrigues, former President of the ACiF in the defense of the Sousa group, saying  that there was no monopoly, that the Ports operations were open to any company that wished to license itself…

"I was the former ports director and I resigned due to the way the Port restructuring was carried out", said the next speaker, Menezes Vasconcellos. "We ended up with a single operator and the most expensive port in the country. I was so disgusted that I brought over a large firm from the mainland to compete in the Madeira ports, but after five years of trying to get a license it became obvious that it was simply not possible!"

Up spoke the President of ACIF, Cristina Pedra, to say that none of this was at all true and that the only problem was the smallness of the market which left no margin for a second operator and tended to put off any newcomers. ..
She neglected to inform those present that according to the police investigation, her family has (or had) a stake in the Ports monopoly through and Offshore company; that her father was the trade union representative and administrator at the company that supplied the labour for the Ports operation, of which the Sousas were also shareholders; that a whole series of family companies were suppliers to this same company, and so on and so forth...

The Ports Monopoly Discussed in Parliament

The Socialist Party proposal for getting rid of the Sousa Group ports monopoly was discussed in Parliament yesterday but its discussion was put off by Jardim's party.

According to the CDS, the Sousas have been operating on a temporary license for nineteen years. All parties were against the fact the Sousas pay the Government, and therefore the region, NOTHING in return for the use of the license to operate using the ports facilities and infra-structure. This while practicing some of the highest prices in Europe, if not in the world.

Even the PSD, in the person of Jaime Filipe Ramos, who sits two chairs away from his daddy, the party's parliamentary leader, recognized that the current arrangement must be changed and that an alternative is being drafted by the Government. By whom and for when we do not know, but it was more than obvious that this news had a nauseating effect on Miguel de Sousa, whose face dropped to the floor.

Miguel de Sousa, a PSD backbencher is cousin of the Ports Monopoly Sousas, and also Jardim's latest challenger. Sousa is a more discreet and sophisticated operator than the Ramos clan, and those connected to him have been very nicely rewarded. Apart from his cousins who secured the Ports Monopoly, Sousa was also instrumental in setting up the 30 year concession for the running of the Madeira 'offshore' which was secured by the Pestana Group (again without public tender,)…of whom he is a business partner.

Since the construction sector, which was the main dominion of the Ramos family, has dried up, they now look on the ever-flourishing Sousa family with a distinctly less benevolent eye.

The Lifting of Immunity for Members of the Government accused of crime voted for the 1st time in Madeira

The lifting of the immunity from prosecution of members of the Government was voted for the first time in the Madeiran Parliament - but with a curious twist!

Hitherto, the Chair of the Parliament merely read the correspondence among which would figure letters from members of the Government requesting the non-lifting of their immunity from prosecution, and these, it seemed, often went unnoticed among the chit-chat of the MPs.

The New Democracy Party (PND), however, has long been trying to get the Public Prosecutor's requests voted, as already happens for the MPs themselves - but only after the newspapers (Garajau among them) exposed the MPs abuse of Parliamentary Immunity.

The New Democracy MPs (I am currently replacing Helder Spinola) have been challenging the Chair's procedure every time one of these cases crops up - which is remarkably frequent.

At the end of last year, in response to Helder's challenges, the Chair called for a legal written advice from a top constitutionalist, which duly materialized but was nevermore mentioned. I requested a copy and discovered why. The advice stated unequivocally that the authorization for the lifting or not of parliamentary immunity HAD to be voted.

Yesterday, for the first time, and giving the due credit to the PND, the Chair put no less than three requests for the lifting of immunity of government to the vote. To my great surprise, the two major opposition parties, the Christian Democrats and the Socialists voted AGAINST the lifting of parliamentary immunity.

Those who so often denounce corruption and denounce the inefficiency of the justice system are PROTECTING government members whenever the justice system does act! They complain, for example, of election fraud, but they are accomplices in protecting Jardim from prosecution in two separate cases brought against him for violating the election law.