As the defence of former prime minister José Sócrates makes a new bid for access to the evidence that has seen its client incarcerated since last November, a media exclusive claims the tax man is now “investigating” the house where Sócrates is being held under police guard.
Rua Abade Faria – already ‘unmasked’ by national tabloid Correio da Manhã for being a great deal more luxurious than Lisbon town council is officially aware – is apparently flagged in the long-running police investigation as being the property of Sócrates “hidden by another owner”.
In this case, the owner on record, Sócrates’ former wife Sofia Fava, is now in the hot seat for not having declared building work which transformed the property from its listing as an old warehouse into what it is today: a swanky five-bedroom property flanked by gardens and boasting an indoor swimming pool.
According to CM, Fava told reporters earlier this month that all the renovation work was fully declared to the authorities and “up to date” on official records.
CM then did some scouting around and found a number of anomalies. These are now being followed up by the tax authority (Autoridade Tributária) and the tax department (Finanças).
Says the paper: “At issue are the improvements realised which have direct effects on the amount of IMI (rates) to be paid.”
Lisbon Town Council is also involved in the updating exercise, claims the paper, and if “after reception of the elements doubts persist on the dimension and value of works undertaken, the tax department may send officials to the site to make an evaluation”.
It is yet another ‘episode’ in the bizarre soap opera involving the former leader of the Socialist party and the nation’s leading daily paper which has always been one of his most fervent critics.
The fuss and bother over who really owns Rua Abade Faria and how much rates should be applied to the property is just another aspect of this convoluted case that has a new panel of appeal court judges looking at it, to see whether now is the time that Sócrates’ lawyers should at last be able to see the alleged mountains of evidence against him.
As we have repeatedly explained since November, despite almost daily stories of intrigue and high-level corruption, José Sócrates has yet to see one formal charge lodged against him.
The decision as to whether Sócrates’ lawyers will be given access to the police investigation, dubbed Operation Marquês, “should be known by Thursday this week”, says CM.
Meantime, the snipes about a “mysterious swimming pool” that reeks of chlorine will no doubt continue.