British police confirm backhanders

It was reported on Tuesday that the British police had finally confirmed that hundreds of thousands of euros in backhanders were in fact deposited in various UK offshore bank accounts by former Freeport agents.

It means that the list of suspects, in a million euro scam to grease the palms of figures in authority in return for the fast-track planning permission for Europe’s largest designer brand factory outlet near Lisbon, is likely to grow.

Despite delays, caused by the Serious Fraud Office in London, which had proved so frustrating to Portuguese investigators, information pertaining to the transfers of large sums of money, considered highly suspicious, between the bank accounts of some of the key figures involved in the case, is understood to have been handed over to the Portuguese authorities, casting suspicion on three possible new defendants, whose names have not been revealed. 

According to Correio da Manhã newspaper on September 8, Carlos Guerra, former president of the Nature Conservation Institute, is one such suspect in the Freeport Case who will have to explain to the Portuguese authorities how 200,000 euros ended up being deposited into one of his bank accounts.

Despite this, possible information involving alleged suspicious transfers involving José Sócrates and his cousins was not among the data uncovered by Portuguese investigators or sent by British Police and there is no evidence, as yet, to link the Prime Minister -who has always maintained his innocence and integrity – to the scandal.

Meanwhile, an anonymous letter sent to the Portuguese police on August 28 this year, which refers to José Sócrates’ cousin, José Paulo Bernardo Pinto de Sousa as having received backhanders, cannot, say police, be considered as evidence.