"Yesterday [13 April], the Judicial Police conducted searches of my two homes and the office where I am a consultant, having found no evidence of the practice of any crime," the socialist MP told Lusa news agency.

"In any case I am available for my parliamentary immunity to be lifted immediately so that I can defend myself and collaborate with Justice, since so far I have not been notified of this request for lifting", said António Gameiro, PS candidate for the municipality of Ourém, in the district of Santarem, in the next local elections.

The 50-year-old parliamentarian, a lawyer, said he was unaware of "the terms of this process" in which he is a suspect, but declared himself to have "a clear conscience".

"My only connection to this process is of a strictly professional nature, as a consultant for a law firm", he added, specifying that "as a consultant, I only" gathered information, requested opinions and drafted letters, "at the request of the firm, at the request of Vila Real de Santo António town council".

The socialist, who was president of the Santarém district, also guaranteed that he would keep his functions as a member of parliament and that he would continue as a candidate for the municipality of Ourém.

Four people were arrested on 13 April by the Judicial Police (PJ) on suspicion of corruption, undue receipt of advantage and abuse of power in the intermediation of a real estate deal in Monte Gordo, Vila Real de Santo António, the PJ said.

"In the course of this operation, called Operation Triangle, four people were arrested, one of them holding political office," the PJ statement said.

According to the PJ, among the detainees, all aged between 50 and 70, "are also a civil service worker and two businessmen".

At stake are "facts susceptible of integrating the practice of crimes of corruption, undue receipt of advantage and abuse of power", with "suspicions of illicit action of the holder of political office, who benefited from the collaboration of officials, as well as other actors, in brokering a business, purchase of property, owned by the municipality, on the beach of Monte Gordo", reads the statement.

The mayor of Vila Real de Santo António, Conceição Cabrita (PSD), is among those arrested.

According to the PJ, "around 20 searches were carried out, namely at homes, establishments and lawyers' offices", and "took place in the Algarve, Lisbon, Leiria and Ourém".

During the searches of suspects' homes, lawyers' offices and a bank "several documents, objects and evidence were seized, which will be analysed", the statement added.

The operation was carried out by the Southern Directorate of the Judicial Police as part of an investigation led by the Évora Regional Criminal Investigation and Prosecution Department (DIAP).

It also counted with the collaboration of the National Anti-Corruption Unit, the Central Directorate and the Criminal Investigation Department of Leiria of the Judiciary Police.

Meanwhile, the Regional DIAP of Évora disclosed that, "in addition to other acts that are suspected to have been favouring individuals in service awards, embezzlement of funds from the municipality and personal favouritism (since at least 2018), is under investigation the disposal of municipal land to real estate investment company, in exchange for undue financial benefits".

"At stake are, namely, crimes of passive and active corruption, prevarication, embezzlement, abuse of power, all of holder of aggravated political office and crime of active corruption", adds the DIAP of Évora on its website.