According to Correio da Manhã today, in 2010 José Sócrates repatriated €25 million from UBS, through an account held by his friend Carlos Santos Silva.
Due to rumours of problems at the Espírito Santo Group, Sócrates decided in late 2013 to split this money and deposit it in six other banks: CGD, BCP, BPI, Deutsche Bank, Barclays and Montepio. This is what tripped him up.
These deposits generated alerts at the central bank and investigators swiftly launched ‘Operation Marquês.’ Caixa Géral informed the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Judicial Police who informed the state prosecutor, who opened an investigation.
State prosecutor Rosary Teixeira decided that the investigation would be undertaken by the Departamento Central de Investigação e Acção Penal (DCIAP.) It could have been delegated to the Judicial Police but for unknown reasons she decided against this.
DCIAP delegated to the Tax Authority which passed the case to its team in Braga, who made searches, watched the suspects and had permission to use phone taps. At the time of the arrests last week, the public security police were called in.
The €25 million had been transferred from overseas under the wonderfully cosy deal for those repatriating offshore deposits to Portugal.
Due tio the sums involved and the complexity of his financial affairs, investigators feared that José Sócrates might destroy key evidence and this argument was used to keep him in prison rather than let him go home under house arrest.
When the authorities accompanied Sócrates to his home last weekend they found hundreds of documents related to banking transactions, including statements and contracts. Some were at his home and others in a rented safe.
Socrates’ lawyer João Araújo was spotted at the Central Court of Criminal Investigation in Lisbon today and admitted that he has yet to visit his high profile client in Évora Prison.
Araújo said he would soon be dropping in, as “we have issues to deal with."
Former prime minister Mário Soares has been to see his fellow socialist in jail and commented today that Sócrates is the victim of "a campaign that is a disgrace" adding that the detention was political.
In response, the president of the Association of Prosecutors commented that Soares’ remark was "absolutely regrettable" and "a disgrace to the country."
"The statements from Mário Soares are absolutely deplorable, are unworthy of a former President of the Republic," said Rui Cardoso as he reacted to the Soares claims made as he left the prison where José Sócrates is in custody for suspicion of corruption, money laundering and tax fraud.
According to Soares, "everyone in this country believes in his (José Sócrates’) innocence" and that "all of the socialist party is against this case," rapidly adding that this case has "nothing to do with the socialists."
In the opinion of Soares, the case "has to do with the rogues who are after a man who was an exemplary prime minister."
Mário Soares said that Sócrates "is a man of dignity and worth and has not even been tried," adding that, "if he is judged, he will be acquitted."
The former prime minister is the first former head of government in the history of Portuguese democracy to be in custody.