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Posted by portugalpress on August 31, 2018

Once considered the jewel in the crown of the Espírito Santo banking family empire, Herdade da Comporta - aside from its notoriety for the millions of euros owed to CGD bank - is now the subject of three judicial police inquiries, involving as many as 15 arguidos (official suspects), almost all of them former public servants.

The inquiries centre on just under 100 ‘illegal properties’ sanctioned for land that has national ecological protection.

At least 14 of those properties are owned by family members of the Espírito Santo family, but there are many other VIPs involved - not least French prince Louis Albert de Broglie who is actually bidding to purchase the 12,000-hectare slice of coastal Alentejan real estate for a sum nudging €160 million.

Why this subject is suddenly back in the press now is anyone’s guess on the face of it: the alleged illegalities go back years, and include one inquiry focusing entirely on permissions that saw former BES boss Ricardo Salgado manage to build a luxurious holiday home on dunes 500 metres from the sea.

Tabloid Correio da Manhã claims the property is “more than three times the size of the building that used to be on the site”, stressing however that Salgado himself is not one of the arguidos in this case.

In the hotseat instead are the former mayors of Grândola and Alcácer do Sal (councils straddled by Herdade da Comporta) along with former councillors in charge of urbanism and building works.

Also cited are various architects and a one-time vice president of the Commission for Coordination and Development of the Alentejo.

Bearing in mind the term ‘illegal dwellings’ is more commonly associated with makeshift properties that then face an unforgiving line of bulldozers, this investigation promises a very different outcome. Heads may not roll (as most have long since left their former positions of power) but lots of wrists look in line for being slapped.

A side story in CM - and another text in Jornal de Negocios - suggests the subject is back in the limelight as Operation Hurricane draws to a close.

Hurricane, or Furacão as it is more commonly called here, has been running for a decade and involves “almost 800 arguidos, 164 criminal inquiries. €180 million have already been recovered for the State, say reports.

Thus Comporta’s ‘illegal property issues’ would appear to be just pieces in a convoluted mosaic that reeks of high-level corruption.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

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