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I Will Do Everything Necessary to Help The Authorities

The President of the Government of Madeira, Miguel Albuquerque, said today that he will provide “every necessary assistance to ascertain the truth in relation to the award of the management concession of the International Business Centre,” which is currently under investigation. 

When questioned by journalists, he said: “First of all, the Regional Government, including myself have provided everything necessary to ascertain the truth as quickly as possible, because I think it is essential, at this moment, to clarify everything that is being investigated. “I have devoted 25 years of my life to public life, in addition to my profession, which I have exercised for many years, in the service of my region and my country, and I have nothing to hide of which I am perfectly aware, since I have not  committed or initiated any unlawful acts.” 

The chief executive, from the PSD / CDS-PP coalition, commented on the fact that several departments of the Madeiran Government and the Madeira Development Society were the target of searches on Wednesday, by the Judiciary Police, related to the award of the concession for the management of the International Business Centre in the region, also known as the Free Trade Zone.

“At this point, I think it is essential to say that we are cooperating fully with the justice department. There is no problem,” he said, stressing that he has never been the type of person to promote or initiate a law breaking scheme.  Furthermore, I have not been accused of anything, nor am I condemned for  anything. I have always acted within my own ethical standards and I will continue to do so.”

Miguel Albuquerque admits the possibility of being able to make a wrong or controversial decisions, but stresses that this is not the same thing as making an unlawful decision.

The investigation, which is listed on the Central Department of Investigation and Penal Action (DCIAP) website, states there are “facts that are likely to integrate the practice of crimes of malfeasance, corruption and economic participation in business;” but as yet no names have been published.

The investigation carried out by the DCIAP points to “facts related to the award, by direct agreement of the Regional Government of Madeira, of the concession for the administration and operation of the Free Trade Zone of Madeira to SDM – Sociedade de Desenvolvimento da Madeira, SA”.

The investigations carried out by the Judiciary Police, adds the DCIAP, “are also aimed at investigating a possible relationship between this award and the sale, to a real estate fund, of a set of properties where a tourist unit is located in Quinta do Arco, which was owned by the President of the Regional Government.

Miguel Albuquerque said that, in the case of the concession of the Free Zone to SDM, the decision was right. He added “I think it was the right decision. Just look at the results of these five years, in which the region had, in fact, great advantages and, incidentally, was also based on a legal framework based on legal opinions”, while indicating, on the other hand hand, that his private residence was not the target of any searches.

The President of Madeira also relates the fact that the investigation was initiated on the basis of “anonymous complaints” for political reasons. Personally “I think the complaint was made on a political basis. But we, who have been in politics for many years, know that this happens all the time. I am a person who has always respected justice and I have worked in justice for many years . Now, everyone knows who and what is behind this,”

Wednesday’s searches covered, in addition to the SDM facilities, two private residences and two commercial companies, as well as the offices of the Presidency and the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Government of Madeira, the Vice-Presidency, the Regional Secretariat for the Economy, Regional Secretariat for Tourism and Culture, the Regional Deputy Directorate for Finance and the Regional Deputy Directorate for Parliamentary Affairs, External Relations and Coordination.

Also on Wednesday, the Pestana Group stated that “it is not, nor has it ever been, a shareholder of the management company” of the fund to which Quinta do Arco was sold, or “holder of units in that fund”, being only a tenant.  They concluded saying that they were subject of a judicial procedure.” Adding “it is not for you (journalists) to comment” on searches made by the Judiciary Police to facilities of the Madeiran Government and to the Madeira Development Society (SDM).”

On the other hand, in a statement the SDM confirmed “that it had been the subject of a judicial procedure”, but reaffirmed the “transparent conduct in all acts” practiced and considered that the ongoing investigation constituted “an excellent opportunity to conclude the legality and good faith “with which society” always acted “in this process.

The DCIAP has intimated that the investigation is being carried out under a news blackout.

Samantha Gannon

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