Former Prime Minister José Sócrates has managed to obtain a mortgage on his luxury apartment in Lisbon for a cool €250,000 in a deal dated January15th this year, long after his arrest in November 2014 and incarceration on suspicion of money laundering, tax evasion and corruption.
The mortgage was authorised by Caixa Geral de Depósitos despite Sócrates’ bank accounts having been frozen as part of the ongoing Operation Marquês.
A mortgage of €75,000, taken out when the apartment first was purchased, was paid off in full in 2010 but when Sócrates lost the election the next year he got a loan of €120,000 from Caixa Geral, ostensibly to cover his expenses while studying in Paris.
Operation Marquês judge Carlos Alexandre suggested last week that Sócrates took out the €120,000 loan because he knew "that he could not receive funds into his account directly from his friend Carlos Silva, or receive funds in cash" and that the loan was a cover story for Sócrates in case anyone asked how he was supporting himself.
Caixa Geral was asked by TVI reporters whether the recent mortgage was normal practice for a customer in Sócrates’ position but it declined to comment, citing ‘banking secrecy.’
Socrates' lawyer, João Araújo, said that he did not want to make a statement as this was a private matter.
The luxury apartment is in Rua Braancamp near Marques de Pombal.
José Sócrates is currently held in Evora jail with his friend Carlos Silva and is suspected of money laundering, tax evasion and corruption. When presenting his case for home release, Sócrates' lawyer said his client was broke and hence could not afford to flee the country.
How Sócrates now can afford to make monthly payments on a €250,000 mortage remains to be explained.
For a Portuguese bank, so well known for leaking the personal details of clients to whoever is paying for them to fall back on 'banking secrecy' gives us all a hollow laugh.
Particularly as that Master Banker (with a b) Ricardo Salgardo is being investigated himself for banking irregularities. When will we hear in court of him (or one of a host of other players well aware of what he was up to) retreating behind this defence.
And - this being Portugal - an honourable settlement with substantial damages paid by the Government for wasting the great man's time.
1 million or so of which he will donate to needy BES 'lesados'. And also then get a tax rebate from this donation next year.
You cannot make it up !
I am still concerned that after being held in jail (for 16 weeks now) without trial, Sócrates and his party will use this precedent for their own political purpose in due course. What is taking so long in this investigation? Why is there no apparent progress?
Surely a court order would force the bank to disclose all the judge needs to know.
But then, do this for Socrates investigation and it would open up a can of worms for thousands of other bandits.
Undermine their cozy lives ... so we have this vagueness.
That said - who is paying for Socrates lawyer if Socrates bank accounts are frozen?