TAP CEO – “I’m just a scapegoat sacked in an illegal process”
The CEO of TAP, Christine Ourmières-Widener said at a hearing on Tuesday that she was “just a scapegoat” over the €500,000 compensation case involving former director Alexandra Reis, and has accused the Government of sacking her “illegally and on television” showing no respect for a senior airline executive.
The French executive was speaking at her first hearing before the Portuguese parliamentary commission of inquiry into alleged misdemeanours at TAP at which she was accompanied by two lawyers. “I was sacked on television by two ministers in an illegal process” she said.
The TAP executive also said that she had received a message from Hugo Mendes (Secretary of State for Infrastructures) on February 2 “informing me that Pedro Nuno Santos (former Minister for Housing, Transport and Infrastructures) had authorised” the Golden Handshake for Alexandra Reis asking her to “sign off on the agreement”.
Christine Ourmières-Widener said that she had not taken “any relevant decision” in the process of the ex-director’s departure from TAP, and simply “acted as an intermediary between the Government and the company’s lawyers. However, she said in the hearing that Alexandra Reis was “not up to the job” and that she was “not in line with” the administration’s restructuring policy” for the airline.
The CEO also said she had not expected “so much political pressure” when she had joined TAP in the summer of 2021, and said the negative noise around the company had been very difficult and painful”.
“I didn’t know that there had been no coordination between the Minister of Infrastructures and Housing and the Minister of Finance (Fernando Medina), neither did I know that the Ministry of Infrastructures did not have the power to approve this agreement, or even that there had been one.
Immediately on resigning from TAP, Alexandra Reis was appointed the Secretary of State for the Treasury by Fernando Medina.
Christine Ourmières-Widener was dismissed as CEO of TAP on March 6. Contesting her dismissal, the TAP CEO has accused the two ministers of “an illegal act” and that her dismissal should have been made by TAP’s General Assembly.
All told, around 60 people will be heard by the parliamentary inquiry. Christine Ourmières-Widener is the third. Last week the hearing heard figures from the Inspectorate-General of Finanças and the Chairman of the Administrative Board of TAP, Manuel Beja.
Photo: Lusa – António Cotrim