Today (Monday), former Socialist prime minister José Sócrates will be facing the judge whose decision will determine whether or not ‘the biggest corruption case in Portugal’s modern history’ ever goes to trial.
Charged with 31 counts of receiving bribes, money laundering, falsifying documents and tax fraud, public prosecutors sustain that Sócrates “received around 34 million euros between 2006-2015 in exchange for favouring the interests of former banker Ricardo Salgado in Group Espírito Santo and for guaranteeing that (State Bank) CGD conceded finance to the Vale do Lobo complex in the Algarve”, explains TSF radio.
Among many other points, investigators also allege further ‘business deal’ fixing in what has developed into an Ariadne’s thread entangling former senior figures from Portugal’s banking and corporate elites.
This is a case that began over six years ago, and saw Sócrates spend months in jail on remand, then further time under house arrest (click here).
Throughout, the former Socialist leader has maintained his innocence, as he will be continuing to do as he faces questions this week.
Says Correio da Manhã – a paper that has followed Marquês with the tenacity of a fox terrier – he will be asking for all charges to be thrown out of court, as well as the case itself “but he doesn’t explain the source of his fortune”.
Sócrates is the penultimate ‘arguido’ (official suspect) to be heard in this so-called instruction phase of Marquês, due to wind up in January.
It will be after this that judge Ivo Rosa will have to decide whether the Public Ministry is likely to be able to prove its litany of charges – taking up 4000 pages in 116 volumes, with ‘around 600 appended issues attached’ – or whether Marquês is, as José Sócrates claims it to be, “exuberantly” flawed.