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Portuguese minister indicted in energy corruption probe

By AFP - Nov 07,2023 - Last updated at Nov 07,2023

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa addresses the nation at Sao Bento Palace in Lisbon on Tuesday (AFP photo)

LISBON — Portugal’s Infrastructure Minister Joao Galamba has been indicted as part of a probe into energy contracts that threatens to embroil Prime Minister Antonio Costa. 

The investigation covers alleged “misuse of funds, active and passive corruption by political figures, and influence peddling”, according to a statement on Tuesday from public prosecutors. 

Costa’s “name and authority” have been cited by suspects questioned during the probe, the statement said. There is a separate probe covering Costa, the statement said. 

The statement was issued after a series of searches conducted at several government ministries and the prime minister’s office that local media reported earlier Tuesday. 

The investigation covers lithium mining concessions in the north of the country, as well as a hydrogen production project and data centre to be built by the company Start Campus in Sines, a town about 100 kilometres south of Lisbon. 

Citing flight risk and the possibility that illegal activity could continue, arrest warrants were issued for Costa’s chief of staff, the mayor of Sines, and two executives at Start Campus. 

The president of the executive board of the Portuguese Agency for the Protection of the Environment (APA) was also indicted. 

APA in May approved a mining project for lithium, an essential metal for the manufacturing of electric batteries. 

A second project was given the green light at the start of September. 

Portugal has the largest lithium reserves in Europe and is the continent’s leading producer, but its current output goes entirely to the ceramic and glass-making industries. 

Earlier, Costa’s office confirmed to Portuguese news agency Lusa that it had been searched, but declined to comment on the legal process. 

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa spoke briefly with Costa, the head of state’s office told Lusa.

 

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