Portuguese Infrastructure and Housing Minister Pedro Nuno Santos resigned from office on Thursday night amid major public outcry over a half-million euro severance check received by a government official of the national airline TAP, which was under his authority.
“Given the perception and sentiment of the public around this matter, the Minister of Infrastructure and Housing, Pedro Nuno Santos, intends, in this context, to assume political responsibility and tendered his resignation to the Prime Minister,” Nuno Santos’ office said in a statement. Prime Minister Antonio Costa accepted his resignation soon after.
The controversy erupted after Portuguese daily Correio da Manhã revealed last week that Alexandra Reis, then Secretary of State for the Treasury, had received “around €500,000” in severance pay when she left the company public airline TAP last February.
TAP later confirmed the amount, forcing Reis to “quickly” accept a resignation request from his boss, Finance Minister Fernando Medina, on Tuesday.
Reis’ departure from the airline “has been monitored by TAP’s legal services and an external law firm,” the statement from the infrastructure minister’s office said. “No information has been sent on the existence of legal doubts around the agreement being signed, nor on other possible alternatives” to the payment of half a million.
However, as Nuno Santos “became aware of the terms of the agreement, and in view of the doubts raised in the meantime, he asked TAP for explanations around this process”.
He later resigned after receiving said explanations “given the circumstances”, according to the statement.