Portuguese Finance Minister Fernando Medina has insisted he was unaware of a compensation package that TAP Air Portugal (TP, Lisbon) gave last year to Alexandra Reis, currently the treasury secretary of state. He also denied any responsibility for the dismissal of Infrastructure Minister Pedro Nuno Santos in late December.

“I was not responsible because I did not award the compensation, I did not know about it, I did not agree with it, and so I do not feel responsible for the resignation of Pedro Nuno Santos,” Medina responded while answering questions at a news conference on December 30, local media reported.

He claimed that as soon as he realised that the situation “jeopardised the political authority” of the secretary of state and of the Ministry of Finance, he “immediately” considered that the values of these institutions ​​“should be absolutely protected” and asked Reis to resign.

Medina will appear before the parliamentary Finance Committee to answer questions about the affair, probably later this week, the newspaper Jornal de Negocios reported.

Santos quit amid a public backlash - and a cost-of-living crisis - over Reis reportedly receiving EUR500,000 euros (USD530,000) in severance pay from flag carrier TAP, which was under the minister’s remit. The pay-out was for Reis agreeing to cease her functions as a board member last February. She later took over the Treasury department on December 2. Opposition parties have demanded that the money be returned to the 72.5% state-owned airline.

According to Jornal de Negocios’s sources, TAP had told the infrastructure ministry about Reis’s departure from the carrier at the time and the amount she would receive. The ministry said that as the airline fell under Santos’s remit, and due to the “public perception” of the case, he assumed political responsibility and presented his resignation to the prime minister. Hugo Mendes, Portugal’s infrastructure secretary of state, also resigned.

TAP is currently undergoing restructuring as a condition to being handed a EUR3.2 billion (USD3.4 billion) Brussels-approved bailout, involving downsizing its fleet and thousands of job and wage cuts. Cabin crew went on strike for two days last month to demand better salaries and working conditions.

Fresh embarrassments for the current ruling administration spilled into the New Year as a newly appointed senior official quit on January 5 in a matter unrelated to TAP. Eleven ministers and secretaries of state have left their roles since the socialist government was formed a year ago.