Portugal’s former prime minister José Sócrates was taken by convoy to Lisbon yesterday to answer questions about the ‘violation of secrecy’ surrounding his case, questions previously that he said he was happy to answer.
At the same time his three month review was taking place in front of Judge Carlos Alexandre and, as there was no new or material evidence relating to the case against him, Sócrates was remanded in continuing custody at Evora jail, alongside his generous friend Carlos Santos Silva.
While Sócrates has been gathering his thoughts in jail, his former deal at Octopharma seems to be unravelling as the pharmaceutical company’s chief, Paulo Castro, has formally been questioned at length over Sócrates’ employment for his ‘expertise in Latin American markets.’
Now that the investigation team has had time to look at the payments to Sócrates of around €25,000 a month, it may have hit on a deal where this hitherto reputable company has been paying invoices to Sócrates for work not done.
These monthly payments continued through the period when Sócrates was living in Paris and apparently was so strapped for cash that he had to borrow bags full of cash from his chum Carlos Santos Silva.
One of Octopharma’s contractors was Grupo Lena where Santos Silva held a stake, a company long suspected of paying Sócrates backhanders for granting it state projects when he was Prime Minister.
Octopharma’s Castro claims all was above board with Sócrates consultancy payments and he is cooperating with the prosecutors – he is an official arguido so has little choice.
Those who have claimed Sócrates is innocent were reacting emotionally in support of the former PM who was a friend to many.
Those who claim he is guilty of tax fraud, corruption and money laundering will just have to wait and see the nature of the case when finally it is submitted and Sócrates formally is charged.
Sócrates's former driver, João Perna, has been released from house arrest by order of the magistrate Carlos Alexandre but must report to a police station each week, may not travel abroad and may not have contact with the other suspects in the case.
Judge Carlos Alexandre is putting his reputation and career on the line as by refusing to allow Sócrates out of jail and to live at home wearing a electronic bracelet, the judge is saying that the case against Sócrates is a compelling one, he might flee if let loose and there is a danger of him contacting others involved in the web of deceit, lies and bag loads of money.