New “blow” for multi-million Marques’ corruption probe

With time (finally) running out for prosecutors attempting to unravel the myriad complexities of Operation Marques’ involving former prime minister José Sócrates, a new ‘blow’ has entered the mix.

A key defendant – and cousin of Sócrates – has “refused to answer” all salient questions over allegedly suspect transfers of €19 million.

National tabloid Correio da Manhã claims José Paulo Pinto de Sousa is simply (trying to) help his (in)famous cousin.

The paper that has been onto this case like the proverbial rash since Sócrates was arrested (2014) and subsequently jailed for almost 10 months explains that Pinto de Sousa is ‘safe’ from Portuguese justice in Angola. Whatever happens with Marquês – if indeed the investigation ever gets to court – cannot touch him, as long as he remains where he is.

“He cannot be extradited”, says the paper today – adding that the apparently little-photographed Pinto de Sousa (images online are all years old and ‘grainy’) is “a central figure in this complex case”.

Indeed, it was as a result of a phone-tapped conversation between Pinto de Sousa and Sócrates’ great friend Carlos Santos Silva that Sócrates was “brought into” another high-profile corruption probe that hasn’t made it to the courts, Monte Branco.

For now, it appears that much of the long wait for answers via letters rogatory has been for nothing.

Pinto de Sousa’s ‘non replies’ have been received back from Angola, with the authorities there reported to be less than helpful.

Meantime, the clock is ticking on an investigation that many believed from the start would never lead anywhere.

How much has been spent on Operation Marquês will emerge once the July deadline has come, and gone.

CM says the Public Ministry is keen to have the investigation ‘wrapped up’ before the elections, with charges unlikely to be made public until afterwards.

For now, the investigation involves 28 defendants, nine of them companies, and a reported 91 volumes of evidence, supported by 3,000 documents and what Observador website describes as 13.5 billion IT files.

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PHOTO: one of the few images online of José Paulo Pinto da Sousa with Sócrates, taken by José Carlos Santos