Three more arrests in Social Security corruption scandal

Three more people have now been arrested in the latest “Social Security declarations” scandal.

As many as 80 police attached to the country’s anti-corruption unit swooped on offices up and down the country yesterday, initially taking two high-ranking Social Security officials into custody.

Now, these have been followed by a lawyer and two accountants.

According to press reports, all were involved in a scheme that saw indebted companies given a clean bill of health so that they could pitch for public tenders.

Each “declaration” was arranged, via the Social Security officials, for anything from €2,000-€5,000.

The scheme “damaged the State” (as the debts remained) and “perverted the rules of the market” which favour debt-free companies in public tender over those that have debts.

Thus the five defendants, reportedly aged between 41 and 57, face a welter of corruption charges, including prosecution for the falsification of documents.

Newspapers covering the scandal refer to an 18-month long investigation which has involved multiple searches of homes and properties to gather crucial evidence.

For now, the defendants remain in custody and are likely to do so for some time, writes Correio da Manhã.

The two Social Security officials were described as having shown “outward signs of wealth” incompatible with their salaries.

They face jail terms, if found guilty, of up to eight years.

Meantime, CM stresses that “the extension of corruption in State institutions connected to this scheme is far from being controlled”.

Further arrests within both Social Security and the Tax department are expected.

The PJ’s National Unit for the Combat of Corruption is said to be “continuing its investigations to catch other people responsible”, while radio station TSF has suggested the two accountants “face expulsion from their profession” if suspicions against them are confirmed.

By NATASHA DONN [email protected]