The Judiciary Police and Public Prosecution Service magistrates were this Wednesday searching the headquarters of the Madeira Development Society (SDM), at the premises of the Vice-Presidency of the Regional Government and also at Quinta Vigia, in compliance with a search warrant. and seizure of relevant documentation for the investigation of the SDM concession and the intricacies of the sale, in 2017, of Quinta do Arco, of which Miguel Albuquerque is co-owner, to a fund of the Pestana Group universe – a process that is under investigation of the DCIAP and in which the President of the Regional Government is one of the main defendants.
The case aims at evidence of crimes of economic participation in business and malfeasance, in addition to the possible violation of Community rules on the award of contracts. The investigation was opened in 2019 in Funchal, but the hierarchy of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, with the agreement of the Attorney General’s Office, transferred the tutelage of the investigation to the Central Department of Investigation and Criminal Action (DCIAP), in Lisbon.
At stake is the relationship between Miguel Albuquerque’s private real estate businesses and the direct adjustment of the concession of the Zona Franca da Madeira to the Pestana Group, a matter that became public in December 2019. At the heart of the matter is the business of the Rural Tourism unit, located on the north coast of the island of Madeira at Sítio da Lagoa – Arco de São Jorge, equipped with outdoor pools, with emphasis on the rose garden with more than 1,700 species of roses. A project that was sold to Grupo Pestana, which was then one of the partners of SDM.
Over the course of yesterday, the magistrates of the MP were consulting documentation in the various offices of the headquarters of SDM, in Rua da Mouraria, and simultaneously in Quinta Vigia and in the Vice Presidency of the Regional Government, and they will have seized and photographed material for future evidence.
According to the newspaper Expresso, all the decisions taken by the Regional Government since 1987, the date of the beginning of the concession of the International Business Center of Madeira (CINM) to the Pestana Group, which would integrate SDM’s share capital and chair company that manages the Free Zone.
According to Expresso, the magistrates have requested all the deliberations taken by the Regional Government on the subject since 1987, when the International Business Center was granted and the Madeira Development Society was created, which manages the concession and has as shareholders, the Regional Government and the Pestana Group itself. There were also searches at the headquarters of this society.
Contacted by the Diario, the press office of the Presidency of the Regional Government confirmed the searches but refused to add any further details, considering that it is an old issue and that it is a secret of justice.
Expresso writes that the searches were made in the context of process 455 / 19.OT9FNC, are related to the investigation that Miguel Albuquerque is targeted for having sold Quinta do Arco in 2017, where a famous rose garden was planted.
Recalls that also in 2017, after the sale, the concession of the International Business Center to the Pestana Group was renewed, with the State becoming the majority shareholder. Miguel Albuquerque, who was already Mayor of Funchal and has been the head of the Government since the 2015 elections, is the main defendant in the process.