NOS invited five senior executives from Shared Services of the Ministry of Health to travel to China, with all expenses paid by the company, Huawei's partner. The company started an internal audit.
Huawei’s partner company who invited and paid for the senior executives’ trips to China was the Portuguese company NOS, ECO ascertained. The trip, which was disclosed this Saturday by the Portuguese newspaper Expresso, included 14 people, five of which who are employees of the company Shared Services of the Ministry of Health (SPMS). The other guests were representatives from three of the largest private health groups in Portugal.
ECO found out more details: the flight was taken by Emirates, in economy class, between the second and 15th of June, 2015. The 4 guests invited by NOS left Lisbon on the 2nd of June, landed in Dubai early morning on the 3rd, and landed in Hong Kong that same day, during the afternoon. Initially, the trip was to end on the 7th of July, but guests requested an extension, a source from one of the private groups told ECO. It was not possible to ascertain the reason for the request, but other sources told ECO the reason could have been vacation.
Among the guests, there are five senior executives from SPMS: Rui Gomes, from the Directorate of Information Systems; Nuno Lucas, from the Communications, Infrastructures, Production and Security department; Rute Belchior, from the Transversal Purchases Direction; Ana Maurício d’Avó, head of the Communications and Public Relations; and Artur Trindade Mimoso, executive member of SPMS’s board of administration. In addition to these names, nine other people also took part in the trip: NOS employees and representatives from the private Portuguese Health groups Lusíadas Saúde, Luz Saúde and José de Mello Saúde. In the end, NOS ended up paying 12,516 euros for the trips.
ECO contacted NOS and an authorized source confirmed the operator is “internally verifying the context and details of the said visit”. NOS further confirms that “in June 2015, NOS employees accompanied a group of representatives from public and private entities in the health sector, in a working visit to Huawei, in China”. Huawei, on the other hand, had previously assured ECO they did not pay for any trip for these executives, neither did they organize it. Meanwhile, NOS started an internal audit on the case.
On this weekend’s edition, quoting a source form SMPS, Expresso stated the trip to China was an event to “acquire and share knowledge on different strategies, resources and models used in telemedicine”. These representatives visited the Zheng Zhou hospital to observe who that telemedicine Health unit works, and they also visited Huawei’s headquarter, in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, the Portuguese Health Ministry has confirmed he requested the intervention of the Central State Direct Administration Service (IGAS) to ascertain the facts connected to the State and also to determine “any possible responsibilities”. The Portuguese Health minister Adalberto Campos Fernandes has decided to wait for the conclusions of IGAS’ investigation before making any final decisions. Expresso also discloses the investigation should be concluded in September.
In the meantime, SPMS senior executives involved in this case have stated they are “willing to give up their positions”. This Monday, the Health ministry sent a press release further disclosing SPMS’s responsibles, especially the president and member of the Board of Administration, have stated they made their job positions available for replacement, if requested.