Socrates stays in jail as the net tightens

socratesPortugal's Supreme Court last night turned down yet another appeal of 'habeas corpus' to release the former Prime Minister José Sócrates.

The former Socialist leader has been held since November 2014 on charges of tax evasion and money laundering.

No date has been set for Sócrates’ trial as the courts are waiting for the results of the ongoing investigations of Operation Marquis.

Events are hotting up as on Wednesday night another Lena Group director, Joaquim Barocca Rodrigues who is the son of the founder was arrested as part of the operation and a further search was carried out at the headquarters of the Lena Group in Leiria.

Questions remain unanswered regarding the terms of various public construction contracts awarded to the Lena Group.

Rodrigues, the vice-president of Grupo Lena and friend of the former PM, is now being held on suspicion of making several transfers to various Swiss bank accounts held by Sócrates’ childhood friend Carlos Santos Silva between 2007 and 2009, when Sócrates was prime minister.

The prosecution claims that Sócrates later benefitted from these payments when he moved to France at the end of his term of office.

Last November, Joaquim Paulo Conceição, the president of the executive committee of the Lena Group said unconvincingly that, "we have nothing to fear," and that "the suspicions about the group are hurtful and completely unfounded."

Conceição and his board decided then to take newspapar Sol to court over accusations that Lena Group was involved in bribery and pledged to open up for scrutiny all past contracts awarded by the state.

Sol referred to the exponential growth of the Lena Group when Carlos Santos Silva became the company administrator and that Silva's contacts within government managed to secure the company many lucrative contracts.

Carlos Silva Santos was executive director of Lena Engineering and Construction between February 2008 and August 2009 and the prosecutors are looking at links between the award of large contracts and Proengel, a leading provider of design and engineering services to Lena Construction, building projects in Venezuela, the Baroque Rodrigues family, and procurement consultant XMI.

Proengel is a traditional supplier to Estradas de Portugal and several of Portugal's regional water companies.

The analysis of bank account data provided by the Swiss authorities has at last enabled the prosecutor to identify the source of €23 million in unexplained payments and the dates of transfer.

This quality information will have been used to keep Sócrates in court pending his prosecution for corruption.

Rodrigues is to be held in prison until he can be sent home with an electronic bracelet for company.


Joaquim Barocca Rodrigues

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-12 #1 Damien 2015-04-24 19:04
All these Portuguese law and order activities of the last year or so just emphasises the lack of law and order in Portugal in the years since it joined the EU.

And that the northern EU must remain suspicious of the depth of commitment. How is it that overnight the same professionals who had previously so comprehensively failed to implement justice, law and order... the judges, public prosecutors, police, lawyers etc etc - have suddenly got their act together ?

Clearly this commitment to justice is only skin deep.

Remember that this firm is only in the sights of the Portuguese prosecutors today because for years it had a 'magical' ability to win contracts. Now known to have been politically manipulated. Regardless of the bribes other contractors were spreading around.

A very sick situation.

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