Home in time to enjoy the long-weekend, Leiria businessman Joaquim Barroca Rodrigues has been released from jail on an electronic bracelet to the kind of domiciliary arrest many would dream of.
“From prison to luxury mansion” ran the headline, and certainly Barroca Rodrigues’ Quinta de Santa Helena near Leiria knocks the socks off most people’s homes.
Set back from the EN113 behind electronic gates, it is surrounded by “high walls and tall trees”. It has a farm, vineyard, beautiful gardens and even a mini-zoo with “tens of species of animals”.
And if this is not enough to while away his enforced time away from an office that is now seriously implicated in the long-running Operation Marquês investigation centring on millions of euros allegedly amassed by former prime minister José Sócrates, there is an indoor swimming pool attached to the main house which stands at the highest point of the property.
Barroca Rodrigues was detained by police in swoops on both his home and business last week.
He had been held in jail, awaiting the setting up of CCTV cameras in his home.
One of the provisos of his house arrest is that he does not cross the 500 metres or so to the headquarters of Grupo Lena which has been complaining that the increasingly high-profile nature of Operation Marquês and its proximity to the son of its co-founder is damaging its reputation.
As Observador website pointed out last week, Grupo Lena’s past has positively basked in the success of securing multi-million euros government contracts during Sócrates administrations.
Barroca Rodrigues is understood to be under suspicion of the crimes of fiscal fraud, money laundering and corruption.
According to Público he is “suspected of being one of the principal corruptors of José Sócrates”. Sábado goes into more detail this week, suggesting Barroca Rodrigues may have used Swiss bank accounts to channel as much as €17 million to José Sócrates for various business favours.