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Brussels report into corruption in Portugal calls for more resources

gavelBrussels has highlighted several shortcomings in Portugal’s much publicised ‘fight against corruption’ and cites the situation where just four magistrates have to analyse around 4,000 asset declarations each, submitted by politicians.

The European Commission has asked that Portugal applies “more effort and resources” to root out corruption but the State seems happy with the status quo, where it can point to high profile cases while allowing lower grade corruption to continue as it always has.

The prevention of corruption in Portugal, “continues to be problematic due to the lack of a coordinated strategy and the fragmentation of competences,” states the European Commission which wants to see rather more effort that currently being displayed

As for the pile of asset declaration from politicians, Brussels points out that “there are between 15,000 and 16,000 political office holders, so each investigator has a caseload of around 4,000 each.”

“The capacity of the Public Prosecutor’s Office is extremely limited and constitutes an obstacle to effective, timely and regular verification of assets,” the Commission said in its worthy report, released this week.

Later in the document, Brussels points out that the asset checking operation is a service that “does not cross-check information entered by respondents with other official databases, such as population records and business records, or with bank account information,” hence is close to useless.

Brussels also is critical that cases are dealt with in chronological order, with no system to priorities cases that look fishy, and that this causes delays in bringing corrupt politicians to book.

In the same report, Brussels recommends the strengthening of local prosecution offices which would benefit from “better resources” for combating corruption.

The report is likely to be read with disinterest by Lisbon and filed in a bottom drawer.