The 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.
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
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:
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.
Monte Branco links:
Face Oculta link: