Portugal’s tax authority has put a holding order on Sócrates’ prime-location Lisbon apartment due to non-payment of a €5,860 debt.
The exact figure of the sum in question is given today by tabloid Correio da Manhã as €5,863.48 – but the paper says the document relating to it at Lisbon’s land registry office (Conservatória de Registo Predial) does not say to what it relates.
CM claims it has repeatedly tried to contact Sócrates’ lawyers, to no avail – and it explains that in cases where debts are not paid, people’s properties are then put up for sale online by the tax department (via venda electrónica).
This may be a side-story to the ongoing Operation Marquês – purportedly trying to unravel millions of euros in kickbacks and favours allegedly orchestrated by the former Socialist prime minister – but it puts the vulnerability of debtors when they owe money to the taxman into sharp perspective.
Only last year a single unemployed mother who owed two years of road fund tax for her car found her only home put up for sale to cover the comparatively paltry debt.
In this woman’s case, a wave of public support soon raised enough money to pay the debt for her.
This may not happen with Sócrates, of course, who managed to mortgage the apartment from behind bars in Évora jail in January to secure a €250,000 personal loan.
The loan was extended to the former PM by Caixa Geral de Depósitos – the same bank that has come under scrutiny from Marquês investigators over “ruinous” loans it made during Sócrates’ years in power.