Rogatory letters probe Vale do Lobo “bribes”

The controversial “Vale do Lobo link” in Portugal’s ongoing Operation Marquês corruption investigation is leading investigators to look into further bank accounts lodged in Switzerland, national tabloid Correio da Manhã reveals today.

Following on from money tracked to accounts held by friends and former associates of jailed ex-prime minister José Sócrates, efforts now are said to be focusing on the personal fortune of the latest “arguido” in the case, former Socialist minister and banker Armando Vara (pictured).

Rogatory letters to Swiss authorities have already been sent, says CM – stressing that what investigators are looking for is the “roughly €2 million” believed to have been paid to Vara for his help in securing loans that “made the Algarve resort viable”.

CM has been running with these ‘exclusives’ into the labyrinthine contortions of Operation Marquês since José Sócrates was taken into preventive custody in Évora jail last November.

It has to be said, however, that lawyers acting for the official suspects rounded up so far have all maintained their clients’ innocence.

Already involved in the investigation is Vale do Lobo CEO Diogo Gaspar Ferreira who has also gone on record to say the Public Ministry’s insistence on dirty dealings that connect his resort to José Sócrates and a web of kickbacks and bribes are “nonsense”.

Nevertheless, the stories continue, and CM leads the way, providing bite-sized chunks for its man-in-the-street readership.

The hot-scoop today centres on the accounts being targeted, involving not just Armando Vara, but his daughter Bárbara who coincidentally is also one of the “people responsible for marketing the image of footballers like Cristiano Ronaldo”, says the paper.

As her father allegedly fights his order to remain under house-arrest wearing an electronic bracelet, Bárbara Vara is tipped to be heard in the investigation “either as a witness, or as an official suspect”. Similar suspicions of money laundering – already levelled against her father – are suggested.

Meantime, the paper further reveals that the next “re-evaluation” of Sócrates’ custodial order is due in “the first days of September”.

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