Sócrates accused of 31 crimes, “accumulating” €24 million in Switzerland

The titanic 44 month investigation dubbed Marquês has finally released its accusations: former Socialist prime minister José Sócrates is accused of 31 separate crimes of corruption, involving the accumulation of €24 million in bank accounts in Switzerland.

The Attorney General’s case is focused on the years 2006-2015, with the Public Ministry “considering that it has proof that José Sócrates, in the quality of prime minister and also after ceasing these functions” committed various crimes, having been corrupted on three occasions.

In the role of Sócrates’ chief corruptor is former ‘boss-of-all-this’ BES bank patriarch Ricardo Salgado, accused of 21 crimes – one of active corruption of a holder of political office, two of active corruption , nine crimes of money-laundering, three of abuse of confidence, three of document falsification and a further three of qualified fiscal fraud.

Former CGD director and one-time Socialist minister Armando Vara is accused of five crimes, including the real ‘no-no’ of passive corruption while in public office.

Vara’s other four accusations involve two of money laundering, and two of qualified fiscal fraud.

Former head of PT Henrique Granadeiro is accused of eight crimes: passive corruption (1), money laundering (2), theft (1), abuse of confidence (1) and qualified fiscal fraud (1).

Former PT ‘whizzkid’ Zeinal Bava faces five accusations: passive corruption (1), money laundering (1), document falsification (1) and qualified fiscal fraud (2), while businessman Carlos Santos Silva has a whole slew of alleged crimes to deal with: 33 in all, including the active and passive corruption of a holder of public office.

The “Vale do Lobo” angle of Marquês has its list of arguidos: resort CEO José Diogo Gaspar Ferreira – facing the accusation of active corruption of a holder of public office, money laundering (2 counts) and three further counts of qualified fiscal fraud.

Vale do Lobo Resort Turístico de Luxo, SA, is one of the nine companies facing accusations, in this case three counts of qualified fiscal fraud.

Vale do Lobo shareholder Hélder Bataglia (out of the country, supposedly in Angola), also faces accusations of money-laundering (five counts), document falsification (two counts), abuse of confidence and qualified fiscal fraud (two counts), while former boss of LENA construction, Joaquim Barroca Rodrigues is accused of active corruption of a holder of public office, active corruption, money-laundering (seven counts), three accusations of document falsification and two of qualified fiscal fraud.

And so the list goes on, with news channels this afternoon revisiting the build-up behind this massive case that has blown a chasm in the country’s previously perceived untouchable ‘old boy network’.

Nothing will ever be the same – but one has to remember that this is still early days. The next steps will play out in court (Diário de Notícias pointing out that the nearest date will still take us into 2019) with many of the highest stakes players still understood to be refuting all charges.

With his defence team denouncing today’s news as the equivalent of ‘yet more fairytale’ (exact description “a novel, a declaration, devoid of facts or proof, which can never be proved because it did not happen”), Sócrates is due to state his case on national television on Friday night at 9pm, reports RTP.

The Public Ministry released news of the accusations at 10.30 this morning, very possibly to coincide with lunchtime television schedules.

In a nutshell, this in the way prosecutors have planned their ‘attack’ on Marquês’ 28 arguidos – 19 individuals as well as nine businesses:

“According to the accusation, it is suggested that the accused who exercised public office, in order to obtain advantages, acted in violation of their functional duties.

“The action of suspect José Sócrates, in the quality of prime minister and also after ceasing these functions, allowed LENA (construction) Group to obtain commercial benefits.

“Suspect Carlos Santos Silva participated as José Sócrates’ intermediary in all contacts” with LENA” and “in exchange for these benefits, suspect Joaquim Barroca accepted to effect payments” which went first to Santos Silva “but were destined for José Sócrates”.

The Public Ministry’s press release reads like one of the many texts that have hit newstands over the last 44 months – most of them appearing in tabloid Correio da Manhã. In all, says Observador, the suspects are accused of owing the State €58 million.

Interesting were the ‘archiving’ of accusations facing suspects João Abrantes Serra, Joaquim Paulo da Conceição and former Octapharma boss Paulo Lalanda e Castro, though the latter has had to sign a statement to allow investigation of facts “relating to companies that he controlled”.

In all, there are 4000 pages of the multiple Marquês accusations, and the 28 arguidos now each have 50 days to respond.

As the Public Ministry release concludes, the labyrinthine inquiry saw over 200 property searches, includes more than 200 witness statements and involves banking details of “around 500” separate accounts, in Portugal and abroad.

Also included in the process is a “vast amount of documentation, both in paper form and digital.

The Public Ministry investigation was “co-assisted” by the state tax authority, concludes the release.

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