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EC to close investigation on German submarines supplied to Portugal

Brussels, 18 September 2013 - The European Commission (EC) will close the investigation triggered by a complaint from MEP Ana Gomes, made ​​on 20 December 2010 and further complemented in February 2012, on the acquisition by the Portuguese State, in 2004, of two submarines and connected offsets contracts, supplied by a German Submarine Consortium formed by the companies Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft AG, Thyssen Nordseewerk GmbH and MAN Ferrostaal. These contracts have originated two different ongoing criminal procedures in Portugal, for suspicions of fraud, corruption and fictitious offsets. Two former directors of MAN/Ferrostaal have already been convicted in Munich, Germany, for bribing Portuguese officials in this process.

MEP Gomes was notified this Monday, September 16, of the decision of the European Commission, which highlights the following justifications: the Portuguese authorities have already transposed the supervening European legislation on the procurement of defence equipment (2009); and the submarines were delivered in a timely manner to the Portuguese Navy, leading to no violation of EU rules, including European competition rules in the field of State aid.

"This is a mystification" said MEP Ana Gomes, noting that "the European Commission washes its hands clean of a contract signed under the political responsibility of its President, when he was Prime Minister of Portugal. This should be a reason to seek to clarify everything till the last detail, but instead this is what explains the superficial interest on the part of the Commission, for a case which involves transnational corruption, fraud and Single Market violations in two Member States"

The Commission highlights, furthermore, that the Portuguese authorities informed it that the offsets contract has been fully executed for the most, and the remaining projects should be fully realized by 2015. MEP Ana Gomes disputes this information: "Out of the 39 projects included in the original offsets contract, only half have been executed, and within this half, seven are in court for alleged fraud against the State. Regarding the remaining projects that are left unfulfilled, they have been replaced by two new projects, under the renegotiation of the offsets contract carried out by former Minister for Economy, Mr. Alvaro Santos Pereira. This is a cheap and misleading outcome that, once again, harms the interests of the Portuguese State", said the MEP, emphasising that she has twice asked the Minister of Economy to give her access to the new offsets contract, without getting an answer. "Why is the Portuguese Government keeping the renegotiated offsets contract in secrecy? Why does the Commission still not care?"

MEP Gomes further stated: "The Commission turns its back to a case of fraud and corruption that contributed significantly to the excessive expense and public debt in which Portugal incurred and which led to the bailout overseen by the Troika. As a member of the Troika, the European Commission has no qualms about pressing the Portuguese Government to further cut salaries and pensions against Portuguese working and taxpaying citizens, but it does not lift a finger to help uncover the criminals who defrauded and bankrupted the Portuguese State, and redress Portuguese and EU interests, in the submarines and other defence procurement contracts".

The European Commission does not, however, deny that the case deserves attention: regarding the allegations of corruption involved, the EC says it has no jurisdiction to intervene in individual cases of corruption in the Member States and refers to the two criminal cases ongoing in Portugal in this connection. According to the Commission letter, the information submitted by the Portuguese MEP in her complaint is a "valuable contribution" to the EU Anti-Corruption report to be published later this year, for the first time. The report "will evaluate the efforts made by Member States in combating this phenomenon, exposing systemic problems and simultaneously identifying best practices and encouraging peer learning" stresses the EC.


Link to the EC letter: http://www.anagomes.eu/PublicDocs/8a523ddd-324f-42d9-8a77-8a6da48546ae.pdf





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