Miguel Relvas

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Miguel Relvas
Minister of Parliamentary Affairs
In office
21 June 2011 – 4 April 2013 (resigned)
Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho
Preceded by Pedro Silva Pereira
Succeeded by Luís Marques Guedes
Secretary of State for Local Government
In office
8 April 2002 – 17 July 2004
Prime Minister José Durão Barroso
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by José Cesário
Member of Parliament
In office
20 June 2011 – 15 April 2013 (resigned)
Constituency Santarém
In office
4 November 1985 – 14 October 2009
Constituency Santarém
Personal details
Born (1961-09-05) 5 September 1961 (age 53)
Lisbon, Portugal
Political party Social Democratic Party
Alma mater Lusophone University
Profession Business manager

Miguel Fernando Cassola de Miranda Relvas (born September 5, 1961) is a Portuguese politician best known for having obtained at age 47 a university degree without taking any classes or exams, which led him to resign in disgrace from the minister position he held in Portugal's XIX Constitutional Government (2011–13).

Miguel Relvas rose through the ranks of Portugal's Social Democratic Party (PSD) and of the Portuguese Government to become in 1985: Member of Parliament, in 2002: Secretary of State for Local Government, and in 2011: Minister of Parliamentary Affairs. Between 2005-11, he also pursued business activities.

Political career[edit]

Miguel Relvas political life started in the Tomar branch of Juventude Social Democrata the youth wing of the PSD.[1] He was a member of the far right conspiracy headed by Manuel Cavaleiro de Ferreira. At 24 years of age he was included in a non-electable slot in PSD's Santarém district list to the 1985 legislative elections, but, when PSD did better than expected and one the candidates ahead of him (Luís Miral Amaral) became government minister, Miguel Relvas squeaked into the Portuguese Parliament where he remained until 2009. He quickly rose in the party ranks becoming secretary-general of JSD in 1987-89, Secretary of State for Local Government in 2002-04, secretary-general of the PSD in 2004-05, and again reappointed in 2010.

As member of parliament he became better-known for his keen participation in allowance-pocketing schemes (see below) and for spending long periods (as much as 6 years) without intervening (his rare interventions were on local government issues).[1] Nevertheless, Miguel Relvas represented PSD in several parliamentary commissions[2] and built a reputation as a major party operational and campaign manager. In 2010, he was decisive in rallying up the votes to elect as PSD president Pedro Passos Coelho[3] setting the stage to become Joint-Minister("Ministro-Adjunto" in Portuguese or "Minister Assistant" in the official government translation) and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs after Passos Coelho won the 2011 legislative elections.[4] Despite being outranked in the cabinet by two Ministers of State,[5] Miguel Relvas was widely acknowledged to be the right-hand man of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho and was considered the de facto deputy prime-Minister[6] until mid-2012 when he became the subject of public ridicule after the circumstances of his university degree attribution were revealed that led to his resignation on April 3, 2013 (see below).

As Joint-Minister in the Passos Coelho government, Miguel Relvas was personally in charge of the key and highly sensitive political reforms of the civil service hierarchies and local political redistricting and representation,[7] of the privatization of one of Portugal's two public TV (RTP) channels.[8] and, as became apparent in December 2012, of the national airline TAP[9] These reforms were envisaged in Portugal's ECB/EU/IMF-financed economic adjustment program for 2011-13. However, the Relvas-managed reforms fell well short of expectations since neither RTP nor TAP were privatized during 2012 as envisaged in the program and the local administration reform was only done at micro-level ('freguesias') leaving the much more costly municipal administrations untouched.[10]

Since 1998, Miguel Relvas has been President of the Municipal Assembly of Tomar—his town of political origin and a longtime PSD stronghold.

Business dealings[edit]

According to his official biography,[11] Miguel Relvas is a "business manager by profession" who "served as CEO and consultant to various companies." As stated in his Parliamentary declarations,[2] from 2005, Miguel Relvas worked as a consultant for Barrocas, Sarmento & Neves, for Societé Générale de Surveillance (SGS S.A.) and for Roff-Independent Consultants, and as a manager for Prointec, although it was later revealed that he only worked for a few months in each of these corporations.[12] He also worked for private ventures (like Kapaconsult, Finertec and Alert Life Sciences Computing) geared at high-level business facilitation.[13] Miguel Relvas is reported to have focused on business in Africa and Brazil, where he established important political and business networks.[14] In Brazil, Relvas was involved in failed business dealings between Portuguese company Alert Life Sciences Computing, a Brazilian bio-sciences foundation Fiocruz, and the state of Minas Gerais[15] Following his resignation from government in 2013, Miguel Relvas appears to have returned to Brazil, where he has been spotted by the media, but it is not clear what he is doing there.

Miguel Relvas also lists in his official biography that he was chairman of the Knights Templar Tourism Region Organization (2001–02), Chairman of the Board of the General Meeting (sic) of the Middle (sic) Tagus Urban Community (2004–09), and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Portugal-Brazil Foundation (Fundação Luso-Brasileira).

Controversies[edit]

Ethical and legal issues[edit]

Miguel Relvas high-flying career has been stained by a pattern of taking personal advantage of political office without apparently breaking the law. Known instances include:

Pocketing and abusing of official allowances - As a member of Parliament, Miguel Relvas was one of several Portuguese parliamentarians to have pocketed out-of-town housing allowances despite living in Lisbon, and airfare allowances for trips not made or made in lower classes of service than entitled.[16] As president of the municipal assembly of Tomar, he made €30,000 in phone calls on his official phone paid for by the municipality.[17]

Cronyism - Upon becoming Minister of Parliamentary Affairs in 2011, Miguel Relvas appointed for himself and his four secretaries of state a total of 56 advisors ("assessores") and support staff—a remarkably high number in view of the fact that the total staff of his Ministry was only 65.[18] The most blatant case was the hiring of his previous chauffeur from Parliament for €2,448 per month (compared with less than €1,000 for most government drivers) despite already having three Ministry chauffeurs at his disposal.[19] The hiring of Miguel Relvas' lover as an advisor by prime-minister Passos Coelho has also raised questions of nepotism.[20][21]

Influence Peddling - As business man, Miguel Relvas has worked for private companies (see above) seen as close to his PSD political party and geared towards doing business through high-level political connections in Portugal, Brazil and Africa. His name has come up in connection with the mensalão political financing scandal in Brazil.[22] The Head the Portuguese Order of the Architects claimed in July 2012 that when Miguel Relvas was secretary of state in 2003 he sought to influence the awarding of a public procurement contract in favour of a company where (future Prime-Minister) Pedro Passos Coelho worked.[23] Miguel Relvas refuted the allegation and said he was initiating a libel lawsuit[24] but, in October 2012, it emerged that indeed Pedro Passos Coelho had personally sought to obtain the awarding of such contract for the company he represented—Tecnoforma,[25] with Miguel Relvas' official backing.[26] Moreover, it was also revealed that during Miguel Relvas' term as Secretary of State of Local Administration the large majority of EU financial support for two training programs in Portugal's center region were channelled to Tecnoforma but that the intended results never materialized.[27][28]

Inflating his academic credentials - Miguel Relvas obtained a bachelor's degree only in 2007 and under very unusual circumstances (see below), but prior to that he had been using the unearned academic title of "Dr."[29] (which in Portugal applies to anyone with at least a bachelor of arts degree and confers the unofficial status to be addressed as "doutor" and of using the title "Dr." in personal attributions such as business and credit cards). It also emerged that when he became a member of the Portuguese Parliament in 1985, he had officially declared that he was a second-year law student, when in fact he had completed just one first-year course prior to dropping out. Faced with the possibility of perjury, Miguel Relvas explained in 2012 that there had been "a lapse" and he had corrected that information latter in the year in a subsequent declaration.[30] In characteristic display of chutzpah, Miguel Relvas announced right after obtaing his controversial BA degree that he was going to pursue a masters degree in political science.[31]

Possible associaton to Portugal's secret services scandal - In 2011 a public scandal emerged in Portugal that came to be known as "caso das secretas" involving as main protagonist Jorge Jacob Silva Carvalho a former secret agent at two Portuguese intelligence agencies SIS and SIED (the so called secretas) and allegedly a Freemason lodge brother of Miguel Relvas (see below).[32] Silva Carvalho resigned as Director of SIED in 2010 and, according to criminal charges against him made by the Portuguese attorney-general, he took with him unauthorized copies of the personal files of many prominent Portuguese figures.[33] For undetermined reasons, Miguel Relvas first sought to limit press exposure of the case (see below) and then to distance himself from it, including by stating under oath that he had only once casually met Silva Carvalho. However, Miguel Relvas was subsequently shown to be lying when the media reported that he and Silva Carvalho had met in person at least 3 times and communicated with each other by SMS.[34] The "caso das secretas" has an internal PSD party dimension as one of the targeted personalities in Silva Carvalho's stolen personal files was former Portuguese prime-minister Francisco Pinto Balsemão who, like Relvas, is from the social-democratic party PSD[35] but is at odds with Relvas over the privatization of a public TV channel that would increase competition on the channel (SIC) owned by Balsemão media group. Perhaps for these reasons, the Expresso weekly newspaper, also owned by Balsemão's media group, has joined the daily newspaper Público in seeking to show Miguel Relvas' association to the "caso das secretas."[36]

Alleged intimidation of the press - Miguel Relvas found himself in a potentially criminal situation when the Público daily newspaper reported that he attempted to blackmail one of its journalists not to pursue a story on "caso das secretas" (see above).[37] Allegedly, Miguel Relvas had called and threatened the journalist with revealing compromising details of her private life[38] (a likely possibility in view of the precedent that another Público journalist had his calls intercepted by a Freemason associate of Relvas involved in the "caso das secretas"[39]). Miguel Relvas admitted calling the journalist but denied making threats.[40] The Press Regulatory Authority ERC launched an official enquiry that found no evidence Miguel Relvas obtained any private information or pressured the journalist (the majority of the members appointed to that enquiry's commission were from Miguel Relvas PSD party).[41]

Association to the BPN scandal - The extremely costly bankruptcy of Portugal's Banco Português de Negócios (BPN) has involved several former prominent PSD party figures and Miguel Relvas' name has come up in connection with a consultancy job he did in Brazil for Banco Efisa, which was subsequently acquired by BPN,[42] but there is no evidence that, unlike other PSD party figures, he enriched himself with BPN resources. However, questions have been raised by Miguel Relvas' reported Freemasonry allegiance (see below) in the same lodge as the lawyer Fernando Lima who is (as of 2011-13) the Grand Master (Masonic) of that allegiance and also happened to be one of the top shareholders of BPN before it went bust.[43]

Denial of responsibility - To date, Miguel Relvas has never acknowledged wrongdoing or impropriety in any of his political, business, or academic endeavors, even when he was compelled to resign as a result of the irregularities in the attribution of his university degree (see below).

Connections to the Freemasonry[edit]

Miguel Relvas is said to be a Freemason and high-ranking member of the Universalis Lisbon masonic lodge that congregates important Portuguese politicians and businessmen.[44] However, Freemasonry activities in Portugal are largely secretive and Miguel Relvas has not publicly confirmed or denied his membership. But according to press reports, he has used his position of influence in the Freemasonry to obtain a university degree without attending any classes at Universidade Lusófona, which is said to have many freemasons in its faculty,[45] and to obtain intelligence on political adversaries through a Freemason associate (Jorge Jacob Silva Carvalho) who is a former director of Portugal's secret service agency SIED and with whom Miguel Relvas is being connected in the context of the "caso das secretas" scandal (see above).[37]

Academic qualifications[edit]

In July 2012 Miguel Relvas found himself embroiled in very public controversy in connection with the degree he obtained from Lusophone University/Universidade Lusófona with little or no coursework. According to the periodical (Jornal do Crime) responsible for the exposé on his University degree, Miguel Relvas may not even have completed 12th grade at "Escola Secundária de Belém-Algés," which no longer existed when "Jornal do Crime" tried to verify his graduation records that were only partial and handwritten.[46]

Miguel Relvas enrolled in 1984 at Universidade Livre, of Lisbon, where he sought to obtain a law-degree but completed just one course (political science and constitutional law) with the lowest passing grade (10 out of 20). In 1985 he switched majors from law to history but did not complete any course and eventually dropped out until 1995 when he enrolled at the international relations program of Universidade Lusíada (which was the rebaptized Universidade Livre after its courses lost their accreditation) but again did not to complete any courses.

In 2006, following the enactment of the Bologna Process that allowed awarding of university coursework credits to reflect professional experience under the ECTS-credits framework, Miguel Relvas managed to obtain from Universidade Lusófona 160 credit equivalencies out of the 180 necessary to obtain a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations. The credit equivalencies were awarded on the basis of his "rich professional experience" by the Dean of the university himself (Fernando Santos Neves) and were not made explicit in terms of the individual courses exempted. Miguel Relvas was only required to complete 4 courses (which he did with comfortable grades although there seem to be no records of him attending classes or taking tests) and was awarded in 2007 a BA degree with GPA of 11 (out of 20).[47] It remains unclear what role the University's Board (Conselho Científico) played in this process and most of its members at the time have distanced themselves from this decision, which seems to have been personally taken by Dean Santos Neves,[48] who resigned on July 12, 2012 from his Dean position but stayed with Universidade Lusófona in another capacity.

Despite public concern with the procedural and ethical questions arising from this unprecedentedly generous attribution of equivalencies and media reports that it may have been made on the basis of his VIP status and Freemasonry connections, Miguel Relvas conceded no impropriety and on July 12 publicly declared that "(his) mind was at ease", that "the law had been fully respected" and that "many others" had obtained similar degrees.[49] He did not comment on the fact that he obtained by far the most equivalency credits of all the 89 other similar degrees awarded by Universidade Lusófona as of that date.

Portugal's Minister of Education Nuno Crato initially declined to comment on Relvas' degree,[50] but in October 2010 he ordered an auditing of all of Universidade Lusófona's degrees by accreditation, which could result in the revocation of some of those degrees including Relvas'.[51] The audit was supposed to be ready in "60 days" (i.e. before end-2012), but results were held until April 2013, just prior to which Miguel Relvas resigned abruptly and without acknowledging the audit's results as a reason for his resignation.

The audit confirmed that many of Relvas' course equivalencies were attributed without plausible experience or even experience of any sort and that he had taken no written exams in the four courses for which he did not obtain equivalencies. (needs citation when audit results come out). The Ministry of Education referred the process to the Portugal's Public Attorney's Office with a view to the revocation of Miguel Relvas' university degree.

In popular culture[edit]

In June 2012, Miguel Relvas gained instant and widespread name recognition thanks to the exceptional circumstances of his university degree attribution (see above) and for his detractors he has since become part of Portuguese popular culture as a symbol of shameless self-promotion. This is illustrated by two new memes devoted to Miguel Relvas. The first was a powerful, anti-government slogan "VAI ESTUDAR RELVAS!" (Go Study Relvas!)[21]. The second consisted of all sorts of ironic claims to academic degrees on the basis of equivalencies for vaguely related activities (for ex: engineer for having played with Lego blocks). The best example was when Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation in February 2013, a new Relvas joke immediately went viral saying he was going to "ask for an equivalency to Pope on the basis of having gone to Catholic mass in the past."[22]

Personal life[edit]

Miguel Relvas was born in Lisbon in 1961, but returned with his parents to Portuguese Angola, where he grew up with two younger brothers until just after the Carnation Revolution of April 1974 in Portugal that led to Angola's independence and the mass exodus of Portuguese citizens. The family resettled in the Tomar area of Portugal, where Relvas went to high school.[52]

Miguel Relvas married in 1989 and, in 1992, a daughter was born from that union. He separated after becoming government Minister in 2011 and publicly assumed a relationship with Marta Sousa a PSD campaign staff 17 years his junior he had met in 2010 when she worked in the publishing of a book by Passos Coelho.[21][53] Apparently he obtained a divorce in 2012 since he and Marta announced their wedding for March 2013[21] but, as of May 2013, they were still not married.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b (Portuguese) Como o Miguel se tornou Relvas Visão magazine, (July 30, 2012)
  2. ^ a b [1] Official Biography, Assembleia da República (accessdate - February 13, 2013)
  3. ^ (Portuguese) PSD: Apoiantes de Passos Coelho falam em vitória por margem larga Expresso, (March 26, 2010)
  4. ^ (Portuguese) [2] Minister Assistant and of Parliamentary Affairs, Governo de Portugal (accessdate - August 5, 2012)
  5. ^ (Portuguese) Who is who in the new cabinet Portugal Daily View web magazine (June 17, 2011)
  6. ^ (Portuguese) Miguel Relvas, "braço-direito" de Passos Coelho Jornal de Notícias (June 17, 2011)
  7. ^ (Portuguese) [3] Miguel Relvas admite redução de vereadores e limite de dirigentes superiores, Jornal de Notícias, (August 31, 2011)
  8. ^ (Portuguese) [4] Passos garante que Relvas fará privatização da RTP, Sapo.pt web news aervice, (May 31, 2012)
  9. ^ (Portuguese) [5] PS quer esclarecimentos sobre o papel de Miguel Relvas na privatização da TAP, Expresso, (December 18, 2012)
  10. ^ (Portuguese) [6] Rádio Renascença web news aervice, (December 12, 2012)
  11. ^ [7] Official Biography, Governo de Portugal (accessdate - August 5, 2012)
  12. ^ (Portuguese) [http://www.publico.pt/Pol%C3%ADtica/experiencia-empresarial-que-rendeu-11-equivalencias-a-relvas-tinha-escassos-meses-1553752?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PublicoRSS+%28Publico.pt%29 Experiência empresarial que rendeu 11 equivalências a Relvas tinha escassos meses, Público, (June 7, 2012)
  13. ^ (Portuguese) Miguel Relvas, o Bem-Amado, Visão magazine, (September 4, 2011)
  14. ^ (Portuguese) Miguel Relvas, o Bem-Amado Visão magazine, (September 4, 2011)
  15. ^ (Portuguese)Contratos suspeitos do SUS com empresa portuguesa chegam a R$ 420 milhões, O Globo (the Brazilian website doesn't provide the date of the article)
  16. ^ (Portuguese) [8]
  17. ^ (Portuguese) [9]
  18. ^ Quase 500 nomeações para os gabinetes em dois mesesDiário de Notícias, (August 28, 2011)]
  19. ^ "Motorista Para o Dr. Miguel Relvas Por 73466 Euros". Scribd.com. 2012-07-15. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  20. ^ Por:Sónia Trigueirão (2012-07-13). "Miguel Relvas apaixona-se no Governo - Exclusivo CM - Correio da Manhã". Cmjornal.xl.pt. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  21. ^ a b c (Portuguese) [10], Casal Relvas faz Festa Discreta, Correio da Manhã (February 9, 2013)
  22. ^ Artigo (23 May 2012). "O homem que abre portas nos negócios". Esquerda. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  23. ^ "Miguel Relvas vai processar Helena Roseta por difamação | iOnline". Ionline.pt. 2012-07-17. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  24. ^ (Portuguese) Miguel Relvas processa Helena Roseta por difamação Diário de Notícias, (July 17, 2012)
  25. ^ (Portuguese)Relvas e Passos agiram em simultâneo para angariar contratos para a Tecnoforma Publico, (October 13, 2012)
  26. ^ (Portuguese)Relvas e Passos agiram juntos para angariar contratos: os documentos Publico, (October 14, 2012)
  27. ^ (Portuguese)Fundos europeus: Empresa de que Passos foi gestor dominou fundo gerido por Relvas Publico, (October 9, 2012)
  28. ^ (Portuguese)Fundo Social Europeu: Relvas ajudou empresa ligada a Passos a ter monopólio de formação em aeródromos do Centro Publico, (October 10, 2012)
  29. ^ (Portuguese) [11] Miguel Relvas já era doutor 4 anos antes de acabar o curso, Expresso (July 17, 2012)
  30. ^ (Portuguese) [12] Miguel Relvas admite lapso nos registos biográficos na Assembleia da República, SIC Notícias (July 4, 2012)
  31. ^ (Portuguese) [13] COMO RELVAS SE FEZ DOUTOR" E VAI "CONCLUIR O MESTRADO EM CIÊNCIA POLÍTICA, O Templário (December 16, 2008)
  32. ^ "Secretas. Silva Carvalho usou Maçonaria para apressar reabilitação de prédio da Ongoing | iOnline". Ionline.pt. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  33. ^ pt:Jorge Jacob Silva Carvalho#Caso das Secretas
  34. ^ (Portuguese) [http://www.rtp.pt/noticias/index.php?article=557210&tm=9&layout=121&visual=49)
  35. ^ (Portuguese) [14], Expresso (May 29, 2012)
  36. ^ (Portuguese) Jornal "Público": Miguel Relvas acusado de ameaçar jornalista, Público (May 18, 2012)
  37. ^ a b (Portuguese) Directora do PÚBLICO reitera na ERC que Relvas pressionou o jornal, Público (May 24, 2012)
  38. ^ (Portuguese) Relvas terá ameaçado revelar que jornalista vive com político da oposição, Visão weekly magazine, (May 25, 2012)
  39. ^ (Portuguese) SIED espiou telemóvel de jornalista do "Público", Expresso (June 2, 2012)
  40. ^ (Portuguese) Miguel Relvas nega ameaças a jornalista do “Público” Ionline web news, (May 19, 2012)</
  41. ^ (Portuguese) Miguel Relvas ilibado pela ERC, Expresso (June 19, 2012)
  42. ^ (Portuguese) Miguel Relvas colaborou com empresa do BPN antes da nacionalização, Público (November 11, 2011)
  43. ^ (Portuguese) Estilhaços do Mensalão chegaram a Portugal, Público (August 2, 2012)
  44. ^ (Portuguese) Miguel Relvas na mesma obediência maçónica do presidente da Lusófona, Expresso (July 12, 2012)
  45. ^ (Portuguese) [15], tvi24 (July 7, 2012)
  46. ^ (Portuguese) [16] Quando é que se tornou “público” o caso do Miguel Relvas?, Jornal do Crime (June 7, 2012) quoted in tugaleaks
  47. ^ (Portuguese) Relvas fez num ano licenciatura com 36 cadeiras distribuídas por seis semestres, SIC Notícias (July 4, 2012)
  48. ^ (Portuguese) Equivalências de Relvas assinadas por uma única pessoa, Diário de Notícias (July 11, 2012)
  49. ^ (Portuguese) [17], Jornal de Negócios (July 12, 2012)
  50. ^ (Portuguese) [18], Crato não comenta caso e vai rever regime jurídico, Diário de Notícias, (July 9, 2012)
  51. ^ (Portuguese) [19], Licenciatura de Miguel Relvas vai ser revista por ordem de Nuno Crato, Dinheiro Vivo, (October, 2012)
  52. ^ (Portuguese) [20]
  53. ^ (Portuguese) Miguel Relvas apaixonado, fama.sapo.pt (July 13, 2012)