On the same day that over 200 operatives swooped on 33 homes and businesses connected to a high-profile case into alleged corruption, two former secretaries of state from the notorious Sócrates’ years have also been accused of theft.
According to Lusa, the case rests on allegations that José Magalhães and José Conde Rodrigues used credit cards “attributed for public expenses” for their own purposes.
Lusa’s story stems from an online announcement on the site of the Attorney General’s office explaining that the charges developed from a complaint by the Syndicate of Portuguese Judges.
Magalhães and Conde Rodrigues were only two of the people investigated in a probe described as taking a very long time and being “enormously difficult”.
Complaints against others were archived “largely due to there being insufficient evidence of the practice of any criminal offence”.
But in the case of Magalhães and Conde Rodrigues “essentially, it was sufficiently proved that the suspects… used credit cards given to them for public use for their own benefits, namely in acquiring books and magazines that did not suit their functional environment and service – whether due to their content or nature”.
The expenses produced pecuniary damages to the public purse, says the announcement.
It has not yet been revealed what kind of books and magazines these two men are believed to have been buying, or how indeed many (see update below).
But what the text did highlight was that the investigation into spending by government ministries between 2007-2013 – (in other words, spanning the first two years of the centre-right government that followed José Sócrates) – was “deficient” in its organisation, “sometimes with no written justification, no identification of the card holder, no rigor in the indication of what the expense was for and without the content of part of the invoices being entirely detectable”.
The note went on: “The absence of clear, uniform written rules on expenditure” and the general muddle of documentation “did not allow conclusions, (except in the two cases where accusations have been made) as to whether or not there was correct use of public funds, leading to a large part of the files being archived for lack of sufficient proof of criminal offence”.
According to Sábado, Conde Rodrigues allegedly spent no less than €14,000 on books “which he took home at the end of his mandate”. Titles included: Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain and Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. There were also “books on Andy Warhol” and Portuguese classics.