Not since 2017 have there been so few complaints to the Corruption Prevention Board | Corruption

In 2022, the courts and the Public Prosecutor’s Office communicated to the Corruption Prevention Council (CPC) 549 criminal complaints, most of which were crimes of corruption, abuse of power and embezzlement. The volume of communications decreased significantly in relation to the previous year (about 200 less), and it is necessary to go back to 2017 to find a lower volume of judicial communications.

The number of communications appears in last year’s activity report of the CPC, which has already been internally approved and which was sent to the Assembly of the Republic. The CPC, which works alongside the Court of Auditors (TdC), is a body whose mission, as the name implies, is to prevent corruption.

As part of its work, the CPC, led inherently by the President of the TdC José Tavares, receives information from the courts and the Public Prosecutor’s Office relating to a vast list of crimes, including active or passive corruption, economic and financial crime, money laundering capital, influence peddling, illegitimate appropriation of public goods, harmful administration, embezzlement, economic participation in business, abuse of power, among others.

Last year it received 549 communications, which compares with 745 observed in 2021. In the years 2019, 2020 and 2011 the number of communications was always above 700. This evolution translates into a drop of almost 200 communications (196, more precisely ) from one year to the next. The trajectory places the current level of communications at the lowest mark in the last five years, that is, since 2018, having to go back to 2017 to find a lower volume of communications. That year, these had totaled 408.

The decrease in the number of communications takes place in the same year that the National Anti-Corruption Mechanism (MENAC) came into force. The decree-law that created the new corruption prevention regime was published in December 2021 but only entered into force six months later, in June 2022.

It was at that time that Magistrate António Pires Graça was appointed to lead the new corruption prevention mechanism. However, over the past year, the two regimes operated in parallel: the MENAC and the CPC, which may help explain the reduction in communications with the CPC. This structure has not yet been extinguished, which should happen by the end of the first half of this year, implying, therefore, still the production of an activities report referring to the work of these first six months of the year.

Regarding the complaints that went to the Attorney General’s Office, the CPC accounts for 29 last year.

Municipalities in the eye of the hurricane

Despite the drop in the number of communications, municipalities continue to represent the entities most involved in complaints reported to the CPC. According to the activities report, among the 549 communications, 56% involve local authorities, which corresponds to 306 communications. Complaints involving the central administration of the State (both direct and indirect) come in second place. In all, there were 159 complaints that reached the CPC involving this category of public services, that is, 29%.

Among the most reported crimes are corruption (37.3% of communications refer to this crime), abuse of power (16.6%) and embezzlement (15.7%). In total, these crimes account for almost 70% of communications.

The largest share of communications originated in the Center meeting (between Douro and Tagus) – from there 243 communications arrived, which means 44% -, followed by the North region (above the Douro) from which 198 communications resulted, equivalent to 36% of total communications.

“The elements received at the CPC also reveal that a considerable part of the criminal proceedings for this type of crime start from anonymous complaints”, says the report, revealing that 46% of the proceedings had this origin (there were 252). Already 148 (or 27%) resulted from complaints made through a private individual who identified himself. Institutional reporting accounts for 16% of complaints, with the remaining 11% unspecified.

The CPC refers that the data present in the report do not allow concluding on effective rates of filing, indictment, or trial. However, finer data give a more complete picture of these types of complaints. Among the communications that are accompanied by indicia and probative elements, the most mentioned risk factor is the deficient control over situations of conflict of interests.

With regard to corruption prevention actions, the CPC has developed educational projects with schools. Last year alone, the Rede Escolas contra a Corrupção project involved more than 200 teachers and around 5000 students from 104 schools.

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