“Blood business” controversy poses new legal hurdle for ex-PM José Sócrates

The labyrinth of investigations involving former Socialist prime minister José Sócrates now includes an elaborate probe into €6 million paid by the Portuguese State during his years in power for blood plasma. According to TVI, the plasma was purchased from Octopharma – the company that subsequently hired Sócrates – after blood donations made in Portugal were “wasted”. The station says the investigation hinges on possible favouritism behind the “directly awarded” contract (terminology here which means a contract awarded to a company that has not had to bid against any other competitors for the business).

TVI’s report also suggested the contracts were given on the say-so of the president of Lisbon’s health authority Luís Cunha Ribeiro, who, at the time, lived in the house of the man in charge of Octopharma, Paulo Lalanda e Costa.

As all these threads are said to be being pulled together, Sócrates’ relationship with Lalanda e Costa is being “investigated with a fine-toothed comb”, writes national tabloid Correio da Manhã – given that both men are now implicated not only in the ongoing Operation Marquês investigation but also in the probe into corruption surrounding the issuing of Portuguese “golden visas”.

In a side box today in its reporting on what it calls “blood business”, CM reports that Sócrates’ employment with Octopharma saw the firm, and other companies owned by Lalanda e Costa, starting to patronise the Mário Soares Foundation to the tune of €15 million.

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