Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa resigned Tuesday after police raided his official residence amid a corruption probe.
The country’s attorney general confirmed the investigation against the prime minister.
“During a televised news conference, Costa said he was ‘surprised’ to learn that ‘a criminal case has already been or will be initiated against me,’ and insisted he’d had nothing to do with any ‘illicit or reprehensible act,'” POLITICO reports.
The corruption probe reportedly pertains to his administration’s handling of lithium mining and hydrogen projects in the country.
BREAKING: Portugal Prime Minister Costa resigns after his official residence raided and top aides detained as part of corruption probe pic.twitter.com/mWDiS6GkFx
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) November 7, 2023
Costa said the gravity of the charges driving his investigation are “incompatible with the dignity of the office of prime minister,” making it impossible for him to continue in the post.
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa will now have to decide whether to dissolve parliament and call new elections, or choose a new prime minister from Costa’s Socialist Party.
The office of the presidency confirmed that party leaders will be summoned to meet Wednesday, with the Council of State, an advisory body to the president, expected to meet Thursday.
Costa said he was willing to remain in office until a successor was named, but clarified he would not put his name forward as a candidate for higher office. His resignation marked “the end of a chapter” in his life, he said.
Portugal's Prime Minister, António Costa, has been forced to resign following searches at his official residence as part of a corruption investigation linked to the Montalegre lithium exploration case.
This marks the culmination of a tumultuous few years for him. pic.twitter.com/pQdcZKDl7K
— Bruce Porter Jr. (@NetworksManager) November 7, 2023
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) November 7, 2023
“Portuguese police arrested Vítor Escária – the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff – hours before Costa’s statement while raiding several public buildings and other properties as part of their probe, the prosecutor’s office said,” Daily Mail reports.
Per Daily Mail:
The Supreme Court is also examining the suspects’ ‘use of the prime minister’s name and his involvement to unlock’ the practices being probed.
An investigative judge issued arrest warrants for Costa’s chief of staff, the mayor of Sines, and three other people because they represented a flight risk and to protect evidence, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
It said that the Minister of Infrastructure João Galamba and the head of the country’s environmental agency were among those named as suspects.
The judge is investigating alleged malfeasance, corruption of elected officials, and influence peddling related to lithium mine concessions near Portugal’s northern border with Spain, as well as plans for a green hydrogen plant and data centre in the southern coastal town of Sines.
The raids included the premises of the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Sines town council, private homes and offices.Advertisement
The prosecutor’s office said that the probe has determined that the ‘suspects invoked the name of the prime minister’ when carrying out their allegedly illicit activities, and that investigators would look into the Prime Minister’s role in the deals.
Costa, a Socialist, has been in power since 2015.