Sócrates arrested at Lisbon airport on corruption charges

socratesThe Attorney General's Office confirmed the arrest at Lisbon's Portela airport last night of the former prime minister of Portugal, José Sócrates who was met by police after an Air France flight arrived from paris at 22.45pm.

The Office confirmed also that a total of four arrests now have been made, including the arrest of the former prime minister, as part of an investigation by the Central Department of Investigation and Penal Action into tax fraud, money laundering and corruption.

'Among those arrested is José Sócrates,' confirmed the Attorney General’s Office which added in a statement this evening that ‘searches were also carried out at various locations as a result of investigations by four public prosecutors, 60 officers from the Tax and Customs Authority and from the Public Security Police who are assisting prosecutors in this investigation.’

The other detainees are Carlos Santos Silva, businessman and friend of Socrates, Gonçalo Ferreira, a lawyer who does work for a company owned by Carlos Santos Silva and Joaquim de Castro a representative in Portugal for the drugs company Octapharma which Socrates has worked for since 2013 as a ‘consultant’ for Latin America.

'The inquiry, which is investigating money transfers and movements without legally permissible justification, is confidential’ with the note stressing that this investigation is independent of the Monte Branco money laundering operation.

The former prime minister will be questioned this Saturday about corruption, tax fraud, aggravated money laundering and forgery.

The investigation team is being led by the Tax Inspectorate of Braga and the questioning on Saturday will be heard by the tireless judge Carlos Alexandre who rapidly is becoming a people’s hero for taking a no-holds-barred approach to questioning high-profile detainees as he also is involved in the questioning of those arrested last week in the Golden Visa operation.

There is plenty to go on, and it is a concern of many that the former PM has managed to avoid questioning for so long. The main two areas involving money, not just lying on his university degree submissions, are Freeport and Monte Branco. The former PM seems to have avoided any political or private damage in the Face Oculta case, see below for links to all three.

Freeport controversy

Since 2005, and, especially again in 2009, it was suggested by some Portuguese and British media that José Sócrates allegedly waived environmental restrictions, following intervention by one of his uncles and a cousin, to grant the British company Freeport a licence to build the Alcochete mall, a gigantic emporium near the Tagus river, developed in part on protected land outside Lisbon in 2002, when he was Minister for Environment of the PM António Guterres cabinet.

Portuguese authorities have meanwhile insisted José Sócrates was not under investigation, nor was he a suspect, while UK's Serious Fraud Office refused to confirm the veracity of reports emanating in Portugal.

José Sócrates also stated the Freeport project was in due compliance with all legal requirements at the time.

Júlio Eduardo Coelho Monteiro, a businessman who is an uncle of José Sócrates, told the Portuguese newspaper Sol how he established contact between his nephew and Freeport's representatives.

In a DVD held by the British police and released in March 2009 by the Portuguese media, Charles Smith, a consultant hired to handle the licensing of the Freeport of Alcochete, clearly stated that José Sócrates "was corrupt" and that he received, through a cousin, money to give the green light to the project for the "outlet".

The recording revealed by TVI is only part of a conversation of 20 minutes that alongside Charles Smith also included John Cabral, an official of the consultant, and Alan Perkins, director of Freeport. It was the latter who, without knowledge of the other two, had recorded the event, where Smith and Cabral were questioned about the money that left the company to be used for the payment of bribes.

On 22 May 2012, Alan Perkins, a Freeport manager between 2005 and 2006, said under oath in court that illegal payments had been made to the minister of the environment. At the time, the minister of the environment was José Sócrates

(From Wikipedia)

The Freeport case, which lasted more than five years, has José Sócrates name platsered all over it amid widespread suspicion that he was involved in the licensing of the shopping centre when he was environment minister.

In 2010, the Attorney General concluded that there were irregularities in the licensing of the Freeport business venture but that nobody was to blame and everyone could go home.

Socrates said at the time,"The truth always ends up coming to the fore and it is now evident to all Portuguese in good faith the enormity of the slander, the falsehoods and injustices that were insistently repeated about me over these past six years, many times and with one goal: to attack me politically and to attack me personally."

See also the video of Charles Smith of Smith & Pedro discussing Socrates' involvement in cash payments:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nmIcGdlZiM

Monte Branco money laundering

Allegations that José Sócrates is indeed involved in the Monte Branco scam were published in August 2014 in the mainstream Portuguese press.

The Attorney General's Office then stated that Socrates "is not being investigated and has not been made a suspect (arguido) in the Monte Branco case." 

This was followed up by a statement from the Central Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution saying the former PM is being investigated, but in a separate enquiry concering the €3 million purchase of a luxury Parisian pied-à-terre where Sócrates has been based since leaving office.

A crack team of tax inspectors, on the orders of the prosecutor Rosário Teixeira, is looking at where this money came from and who actually owns the Paris property as it may not be Sócrates himself.

Other suspects are Sócrates’ cousin José Paulo Bernardo who appeared in the Freeport case, and his friend Carlos Manuel dos Santos Silva who bought property for José Sócrates' mother when she was affronted by a sizeable tax bill.
 
Socrates has been under surveillance during 2014 and of further interest to the tax authorities is the lack of clarity in his tax returns which have failed to list interest received from bank deposit accounts since the '80s.

 Freeport links:

http://www.algarvedailynews.com/features/finance/3134-freeport-s-finances-surrounded-by-suspicion

http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/2274-call-to-kick-out-freeport-from-alcohete-shopping-centre#comment-1032

http://www.algarvedailynews.com/features/business/1818-creative-accounting-at-freeport

http://www.algarvedailynews.com/features/finance/957-freeport-directors-sign-off-suspicious-accounts

http://www.algarvedailynews.com/features/finance/658-freeports-accounts-still-don-t-add-up

http://www.algarvedailynews.com/features/business/515-freeport-and-the-autodrome-how-venture-capitalists-operate

 

Monte Branco links:

http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/3062-taxman-is-after-former-pm-jose-socrates

http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/2984-salgado-out-on-3-million-bail

Face Oculta link:

http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/3338-face-oculta-tiral-ends-godinho-gets-17-years-in-prison

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Comments  

0 #14 Joao Coelho 2014-11-24 07:38
@karel,
Well, i would disagree about facts that prove the point you are trying to make. Give me historical evidence of such facts. Greece for example has already gone over several generations since their revolution and look at the amount of corruption that exists in that country. Italy also comes to mind. But even in democracies, we have huge levels of corruption. In the United States, California, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania are just a few of the states with levels of corruption that may make portugal look like a saint. Three or four generations roughly 60 to 80 years, is that enough to change a culture? I think it depends on whether or not the culture actually does its best to change otherwise they will just keep on repeating the mistakes of the past into the future.

Indeed it is a very interesting subject. Why is it that Germany, or Sweden or Denmark seem to be able to control their officials while most of the southern countries of europe are hopelessly in a state of constant corruption.
+2 #13 Karel 2014-11-23 17:11
Dear mr Joao Coelho,
You speak about 3 different things:
1. indeed, there is no "scientific" material to prove the statement, there is only the "facts in the field" that prove over and over what I just said.
2. the way how things go in Portugal have always been existed. But indeed after the '74 revolution when the socialist took the power "about everything" went wrong in this country.( not only here, in other countries the socialists destroyed democracy and instaured flourishing corruption as well - see the example of Belgium today!)
3. All kind of international organisations might help in the development of a country but they may definitely not "take over" the power. I must say I am each time disappointed when I hear or read "that the Troika" ruined Portugal and made suffering the Portugese people. What a rubbish ! SOCRATES was the man who pledged Europe to give a loan" to Portugal! And probably he was convinced that this time - like the 3 precedcent times - he should get a GIFT form Europe.... unfortunately this time it was a LOAN and loans have to be refunded, haven't they ?
This seems to be a very interesting topic, isn't it ?
+4 #12 Joao Coelho 2014-11-23 16:32
i find the reasoning about the generational delay for the development of democracy a rather poor excuse for the inept and corrupt system that Portugal always had. First, what is your "scientific" proof of the generational delay? Second, even if we grant such an arbitrary measurement, that would only work if there was a serious effort to fix things, to train people properly and what we are witnessing here, is that is not the case. The only training going on is on how to enrich oneself at the cost of the country. The problem is not the generational growth but the complete lack of institutions and enforcement of the laws by independent organizations. In this case, having the EU run Portugal might fix this problem, not allowing the Portuguese to fix it themselves.
+1 #11 Karel 2014-11-23 15:44
Dear Martin Jones,
it is not simple, isn't it ? After a change of regime one cannot organise a manslaughter on the "old boys" (you'll have to kill them all....) but more important is that there is no "young blood" waiting or even trained for the take over. And indeed you said it right: expertise help should be brought in (immediately) from abroad. Point is taht's another very difficult (read: quasi impossible) point. They know everything about that in EU and in NATO... I can assure you that !
+7 #10 Desmond 2014-11-23 15:37
Fascism and Communism are two opposites ! So southern Europe and east Europe 'revolutions' cannot be seen as similar.

In Communism the drive for change comes, in theory, from the bottom. So the powerful owners of land, labour and capital are replaced. And the intellectuals leading an original communist revolution - rather an imposed one as with east Europe - are themselves deposed by a more ruthless 2nd generation.

Therefore, communist leaders can never be entirely sure that they cannot themselves be deposed. They know it has happened before -- perhaps several times.

In Fascism the dictator works with the owners of land, labour and capital ie. power. The power remains with the owners of land, labour and capital.

Certainly Communism then creates another elite. But Fascism keeps its old one.

Fascist elites have never known this 'upheaval'.
Any attempt to impose real democracy 'fails' as Fascist elites have never lost their power.

Anyone getting near their elite level.. gets, like them, 'special rewards'. By not least, an anti-EU warping of justice and privilege.
+2 #9 Pike 2014-11-23 13:28
Lack of food for spiders in the jar, need to clear the space :) Lost the power - lost the head. Good luck, thieves.
+5 #8 Martin Jones 2014-11-23 10:23
This just emphasises the main weakness in Revolutions'. Both real ones and those organised and run by the elite - as in Portugal's case.

With no genuine change - for years afterwards everyone must continue to work with the same forces of law and order as before. Having the same values and interpreting the law just as before the 'revolution'.

Ideally in Portugal's case a team of Scandinavian judges and lawyers had been sent in by the UN, IMF or whoever. To administer justice and the law and 'train up' a new breed of judiciary and police. Weeding out the suspect 'old guard' and promoting the brightest and best. But that did not happen.

It was constantly worrying to keep reading that the lawyer intent on hounding Serena Wylde was the son of a Salazar judge. So effing what !!!

Following a genuine revolution that would never have been given as an excuse for the law to be 'warping' around anyone – particularly a lawyer. Giving anyone 'special treatment'.

Had there been a 1974 Portuguese Revolution - his Dad as an ex-Salazar judge - so knowing the verdict before the trial should have counted against the man !
+4 #7 Karel 2014-11-23 09:44
In response to Dierdre I can witness that after a dictatorial period it takes at least 2 genererations (or 3 decades) before "the last adepts of the old regime" will be replaced by "new blood". The consequences of that are terrible for a newly formed democratic regime... because everything continues exactely as it was before... simply because it are the same people most of the time in the same jobs. As I was very closely involved in the changing of the political regimes in the former East Block countries it gave us every day the impression NOTHING had changed... in spite of the Prague Spring, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Hungarian Spring, e.o.
Is there "a solution"? Yes there is but difficult to realise: when a regime switches and you put "a man new generation" alongside "the man old genereation"
so that the new one can quickly "learn and analyse the work of the old one" then after 1 to 2 years you can create a totally new (and democratic) regime. The situation in the schools is even worser as "the old boys" continue to instruct the pupils in "old fashion" ways so that it will take up to 4 generations before you'll get "modern and democratic education".
+4 #6 Dierdre 2014-11-22 18:56
It is excellent news but this is where Portugal has failed the European Union ! All this is so desperately LATE !

Why - after 40 years of supposed new freedoms to train up a new breed of judiciary - is there only one judge suitable to hear these sensitive cases ?

Why no other judges available? Trained and focussed on identifying the guilty party to be punished. Punishing them to the nth degree. Not a judiciary who along with the public prosecutors and lawyers .... have been working tirelessly to help - the big bad guys.

Or can we assume that 'a higher body'- not God in this case (assuming he still operates in Portugal) but some 'body' in the European Union - have insisted that he is the only judge they can trust to work with ?

So a very tight control of information; restricted 'need to know'. That the 'usual' authorities in Portugal are not trusted with ?

Now for some other biggies - all the other ex-Presidents and PMs-! It was the norm so who would turn 'bungs' down ?

And why else would the greatest living Portuguese put his lawyer son into the Bank of Portugal ... to do what exactly ???

WOW !
+9 #5 Mr John 2014-11-22 18:45
My mother has just turned 90 years young, as her son i have listen to these stories of political corruption and theft from the public purse by people in power, it's the reason we are poor and they are rich, they always get away with it but as for today PUT THEM IN JAIL FOR A LONG LONG TIME

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