The concept of corruption is associated with least developed countries, but also in developed countries corruption is widespread. There are several examples of corruption in Portugal which is a developed country with an advanced economy and high-income levels. In a country, consolidated and independent judiciary and strong institutions are convenient to struggle with corruption. Portugal is a good example to demonstrate the cause and effect relation between the misuse of authority and the developed world. In Portugal, there is a link between corruption and racism, racist attitudes pave the way for financial crimes. There is co-integration between democracy and corruption. Also, corruption can be prevented by improving democracy.
According to the data from Ernst & Young’s analysis in 2015, 83% of citizens thought that corruption and bribery were prevalent in Portugal. Former Prime Minister Jose Socrates was arrested due to the claim of corruption. Socrates was charged in the light of investigations carried out under the operation called “White Mountain” in 2011. By Operation White Mountain, it was revealed that some people were laundering money between Portugal and Switzerland. João Paulo Batalha who is from the Portuguese branch of Transparency International has described justice as a funnel in Portugal. According to him, “Judiciary is not efficient enough in Portugal”. For instance, in most of the lawsuits about the economy, finance, and corruption, the suspects were not sentenced. As an example of democratic erosion precursor, in 2017, the Office of Chief Public Prosecutor accused Angola Vice President Manuel Vicente because of corruption, money laundering, and forgery of documents. He was put on trial in 2018. Also, former Portuguese prosecutor Orlando Figuera was charged with similar claims. The prosecution launched an operation called “Fizz” because some files were closed equivocally. Orlando Figuera was unseated because he was accused of closing an investigation about Manuel Vicente in exchange for a bribe. Figueira, who allegedly took a bribe of 760 thousand euros and closed the investigation, was sent to prison, but later a house arrest was decided. Vicente was accused of laundering money and buying a house from Portugal’s charming town named Cascais. Vicente was one of the prominent and politicians of Portugal, he was the former president of an important parastatal called as the Sonangol Group which is an oil and natural gas company in Angola. According to the Angolan journalists, Manuel Vicente was the biggest beneficiary of Lektron Capital. It was announced that Lektron Capital, the private limited company situated in Angola, profited by the public fund. It received a great deal of money from the Sonangol Group which is a government entity to purchase his bank Banco Económico. During this cash flow from Sonangol to Lektron Capital, Manuel Vicente was the president of Sonangol and the top beneficiary of Lektron Capital. Accordingly, Manuel Vicente did an illegal trading operation and the judiciary power was not efficient. Furthermore, on the trial, most of the defendants in the ‘golden visa’ case which was launched in Portugal five years ago have been cleared. The Golden Visa is an application launched to avert the debt crisis in Portugal. The aim was to provide additional revenue to the government’s budget by issuing Schengen visas to foreign investors who met the financial conditions set out in the framework of this practice. Miguel Macedo, who resigned compulsorily for bribery while he was Interior Minister, was among the defendants in the case. Macedo’s lawyer Alfredo Castanheira Neves said: “the acquittal decision makes sense because there is insufficient evidence to support the baseless charges.” description found. As opposed to this argument Socialist Party legislator Ana Gomes told that: “Decision of acquittal, in this case, feeds corruption.” Also, Manuel Jarmela Palos, who was the former Border Police Director, was acquitted by the decision of the Lisbon Court. He was accused of working with the band that gives residence permits to foreign investors. In the corruption operation, which ended with the resignation of Miguel Macedo, 11 people who were senior public officials were caught. Miguel Macedo, one of the key figures in the centre-right government under Pedro Passos Coelho, announced that he was not responsible for the scandal but he took on political responsibility and resigned for the good of the Portuguese government and the state institutions. As part of the operation which was held in 2014, official institutions linked to the interior, justice, and environment ministries were raided. The prosecution charged them with bribery, embezzlement, money laundering and abuse of office.
According to the EU Corruption Report, the Portuguese perceive a high level of corruption but they witness corruption at an extremely low level. According to a research, Portuguese citizens think that their government is not sufficiently sensitive to corruption. As a social problem, police are less trusted in Portugal than in other EU member states. In my opinion, the Portuguese state should increase the penalties for corruption and create an environment of trust for citizens by ensuring that people working in politics and within the state are not corrupt. According to a law enacted by the Portuguese Parliament in 2015, it was aimed to protect people who gave information about those who made corruption in areas such as political, international trade, and sports, however, there were difficulties in implementing this law in daily life.
There is a inverse relationship between democracy and corruption. In a country, the rate of corruption increases as economic and political freedoms are restricted because the level of democracy decreases as the rights and freedoms of individuals in society are restricted. In my opinion, there have been cases where the judiciary has been inadequate against the corruption experienced in Portugal. For instance, some prominent figures in politics, such as Miguel Macedo, have been acquitted of corruption cases. Thus, corruption is fed by a flaw in the judicial system. Corruption increases as democratization decreases and democracy reduces corruption in countries where property rights are secured and income distribution is equal.