Marquês still reeling in suspects one week from investigation deadline

Today’s ‘hot story’ is that yet another ‘arguido’ has been cited in the long-running Marquês investigation – just days before the probe into purported millions allegedly snaffled away by former Socialist prime minister José Sócrates is due to close.

Joaquim Paulo de Conceição joins the VIP list of other ‘suspects’ and if national media is to be believed, he is not the last.

Expresso has intimated that Sócrates’ cousin José Paulo Pinto de Sousa will be slapped with arguido status “even this week”, writes Correio da Manhã.

Considering Marquês is covered by Portugal’s usually strict Secrecy of Justice ruling, it is incredible how much information has been ‘leaked’ to the press.

CM has been leading ‘revelations’ since even before Sócrates’ arrest in Lisbon in 2014, but Expresso too is keeping a close-eye, claiming that the former prime minister’s cousin, living in Angola, is under suspicion of having “channelled various millions of euros” to Sócrates.

For now however, focus is on 25th ‘arguido’ Conceiçaõ (photographed above), cited “on individual terms” as a businessman, and also due to his position as executive president of Leiria construction group Lena, says CM.

All media outlets agree that the March 17 deadline set by Attorney General Joana Marques Vidal is ‘sacrosanct’.

Vidal has made it clear that she will accept no further requests for time-extensions on the investigation that Sócrates’ defence team has repeatedly tried to scupper, alleging abuse of statutory time-limits.

As for Conceição, he is under suspicion over “contracts for cars” purportedly used by members of Sócrates’ family, as well as for allegedly allowing Group Lena to be used “to sustain a business with fictitious values” responsible for the “transaction of millions to José Sócrates through (his long-term friend) Carlos Santos Silva”, claims CM.

Angola comes up repeatedly in the apparent hornet’s nest of financial intrigue, with dual Angolan-Portuguese businessman Hélder Bataglia described by CM as having “betrayed” Sócrates, to whom he used to be related through marriage.

It is the kind of case that will give government leaders attempting to portray Portugal to the outside world as a serious country on a positive path weeks of dyspepsia. And we only have another few days to wait before formal charges are finally consolidated.

To recap on some of the ‘biggest names’ in this case suspected of varying degrees of fraud, corruption, money-laundering and general malfeasance, they include former BES ‘boss-of-this all’ Ricardo Salgado, former Socialist minister and former director at State bank CGD Armando Vara – already hoping to avoid a jail sentence for the trafficking of influences – Zeinal Bava, former head of telecommunications company Oi after it was sold in a catastrophic deal to PT – and Henrique Granadeiro, former executive president of PT.

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