Prime Minister cries defamation and slander  in apartment ro

Prime Minister José Socrates has slammed insinuations that he tax dodged in the purchase of a luxury downtown Lisbon pad as “defamatory and slanderous”.

For the second time in a month, the Prime Minister has taken the unprecedented step of publishing an explanation and rebuttal to veiled accusations of shady financial dealings made in a national newspaper.

The first rebuttal was published in the daily newspaper Público at the end of January following a string of articles in national newspapers over his alleged involvement in the obtaining of planning permission for the Freeport Retail Park at Alcochete.

The second rebuttal was published in Público on Friday over allegations that the Prime Minister had in 1996, when he was Minister-Adjutant to the then Prime Minister, António Guterres, paid 47,000 contos (235,000 euros) for a 175m2 apartment nº 3A in Heron Castilho Building on Lisbon’s smart downtown Rua Braancamp, close to Marquês de Pombal.

Yet a Portuguese businessman living in France had, two years previously, paid 70,000 contos (351,000 euros) for identical apartment nº 3E even though as a foreign resident he was exempt from paying the property tax SISA.

The property company acting as estate agent for the property developer Heron International N.V at the time was London-based international property agency CB Richard Ellis, which was asking 78,000 contos (390,000 euros), the same asking price for the apartment purchased by the Portuguese émigré businessman.

CB Richard Ellis has now made available the retail price list it practised as of March 1994 which fixed the value of the apartment sale where José Sócrates lives at 60,650 contos (302,520 euros).

In his statement to Público, José Sócrates confirmed that he paid the “value that corresponded to the price rates practised at the time by the property agency (CB Richard Ellis) including the corresponding stamp duty property tax” (SISA) and that “any insinuation” that he had not “fulfilled his fiscal obligations can only be considered by me as calumnious and defamatory”.

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