Sócrates’ fortune “frozen”

Sócrates’ fortune “frozen”

As he remains in preventive custody in Évora jail, the alleged illicit fortune of José Sócrates is reported to have been frozen.
If it is found to have resulted from the suspicions of corruption, tax fraud and money-laundering that prompted Sócrates’ detention, the fortune originally understood to have been deposited in failed BES – and then transferred to three Portuguese banks (CGD, BCP and BPI) as well as Deutsche Bank and Barclays – will revert to the Portuguese state.
The news, revealed this morning in two Portuguese newspapers, brings new revelations on the probe into the affair dubbed Operation Marquês.
Sol’s website points to the “exponential growth” of property group Lena, after Sócrates’ co-defendant and childhood friend Carlos Santos Silva took up his position as the company’s administrator.
Silva’s “contacts with the state” brought Lena numerous lucrative business contracts, “many without having to go to public tender”, writes Sol.
Público provides more background in an article on how Santos Silva’s connections with Lena were behind a multi-million project in Venezuela.
The news very possibly explains reactions in the Venezuelan press to Sócrates’ detention.
Unlike other countries, which simply repeated the news coming out of Portugal, Venezuela claimed the former Socialist leader was being “persecuted” and called the accusations against him “shocking”.
As the nation’s news media continues to have a field day, the likelihood of Sócrates appealing against being held in jail increases.
His lawyer João Araújo has already told reporters that his client was aware of his impending detention and still voluntarily returned to Portugal from France.
The inference is that Sócrates does not present a flight risk and should therefore be allowed home to await any future criminal charges.
According to national tabloid Correio da Manhã, “this will be one of the arguments of the defence in the appeal that it has 20 days to present to Lisbon’s court of appeal”.