Portugal’s finance ministry denies reports of Centeno’s possible resignation

EPA / MARIO CRUZ

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa (R) and Finance Minister Mario Centeno (L) during the second day of the parliamentary debate of the 2016 State Budget, Lisbon, Portugal, 22 February 2016.

Portugal’s finance ministry denies reports of Centeno’s possible resignation


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Portugal’s Finance Ministry on Monday flatly denied reports that Eurogroup President and Lisbon’s current Finance Minister Mário Centeno plans to resign after he was named as a “person of interest” in an ongoing corruption investigation.

“The reports are false, the finance minister has private talks with the prime minister every day. No resignation has been discussed in this context,” a source with knowledge of the case who requested that their identity not be revealed, told New Europe on Monday.

After Portuguese Police searched Centeno’s office in an attempt to find evidence that linked him to a scheme that provided tax advantages to a real-estate company owned by family members of Luís Filipe Vieira, the president of Lisbon football club Benfica.

According to what the Ministry’s source told New Europe, Centeno has had private talks with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, but at no time has his resignation been discussed.

Finance ministry officials in Lisbon have denied that Centeno was even associated with the ongoing investigation, pointing out that the question of a municipal property tax is handled by Lisbon’s City Hall without the input of the central government.

“The Ministry has not intervened in the attribution case of local tax exemptions as foreseen in the Article 71 (7) of the Fiscal Benefits Statute: ‘Urban buildings subject to rehabilitation may be exempted from municipal tax on real estate (…)’.” said a Portuguese Ministry of Finance statement from January 8.

The Ministry’s statement also that “local tax exemptions are decided at the local administration level. Municipal services are only required to communicate the exemptions to the relevant tax office of the location of that piece of real estate,” repeating that there was no intervention by the Portuguese Government, “in full compliance with the existing rules which give the government no prerogative to intervene in such decisions.”

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