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Portugal’s tax chief resigns over alleged VIP list

The head of Portugal’s tax revenue service, Antonio Brigas Afonso, resigned Wednesday under pressure over alleged special treatment for VIPs.

Afonso has denied any knowledge of the existence of a “top secret” list of politicians, businessmen and celebrities allegedly shielded from the full scrutiny of tax inspectors.

According to Paulo Ralha, head of the revenue agents’ union, more than 100 disciplinary procedures have been launched against revenue service employees who accessed the list without authorisation.

In his resignation letter, Brigas Afonso said that “by failing to inform the supervisory authorities of these internal procedures, I could inadvertently have given the impression that this alleged list exists.”

Last week Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho sought to calm a storm over his own late payment of taxes and social security contributions in the past, as he faced calls for his resignation.

Passos Coelho, who heads a centre-right government, acknowledged oversights but insisted that the bottom line was that he had paid what he owed.

Media reports last month said the prime minister had not paid his social security contributions for five years between 1999 and 2004, while he worked as a consultant for vocational training company Tecnoforma.

The existence of a revenue department list of VIP names has been repeatedly denied by the government.

On Monday the government ordered an investigation into the “supposed existence” of such a list.