A book released today covering the events leading up to José Sócrates’ arrest in 2014 reveals that the former prime minister received large sums of cash several times a month and was continuously hitting his credit card limit when living a life of luxury in Paris.
Deliveries of money were made to Sócrates, arranged by his friend Carlos Santos Silva, three times a month on average to support his spending while studying.
The book, ‘Cercado’(Surrounded), by Fernando Esteves exposes an extraordinary hunger for cash payments and describes 40 deliveries of money made in one year, quoting from an statement submitted by judge Carlos Alexandre to justify Sócrates’ arrest in November 2014.
The book reveals also that Carlos Santos Silva admitted to prosecutors that he had given €550,000 in cash to his friend with some deliveries just a few days apart.
One example given is the delivery of €10,000 in bank notes made on 2 April 2014. Two days later Socrates received another €10,000.
"In phone calls requesting the delivery of money, the former prime minister did not ask – he demanded. This is why the prosecution team concluded that the money belonged to him and why he was arrested on suspicion of corruption, tax fraud and money laundering."
‘Cercado’ describes José Sócrates’ political life over the past decade and is based on documents and on interviews with many of his employees but the interesting parts relate to his life in Paris and his demands for more and more cash to support his millionaire lifestyle, while describing himself as a humble student.
Deliveries of money between the two main defendants in Operation Marquis, was tracked for over a year by prosecutors who recorded an average of three deliveries a month.
Although the press already has reported many of these cash transactions, this is the first time that a full list has been published in detail and it will surprise many ordinary Portuguese taxpayers who struggle to earn €10,000 after tax in a year.
The demands for "books" and "photocopies" as the money often was referred to, "paid for almost everything: clothing, wages, income, condominiums, travel."
Surveillance of Sócrates’ movements began in the summer of 2013, just weeks after the Central Department of Investigation and Penal Action (DCIAP) opened Operation Marquis.
The book describes events in September 27, 2013 when Carlos Santos Silva handed €10,000 to Sócrates one afternoon and, after another phone call in which Sócrates told his friend that he "needed to bring something" because he had hit the credit card limit and Sofia Fava, his ex-wife and mother of his children, would be visiting him in Paris and they would need some money. Just seven days before, Sócrates has received €10,000, and four days before that another €5,000.
The book described two deliveries of cash made by André Figueiredo, a former chief of staff in the socialist party with close ties with the former socialist leader.
The first such occasion was on October 4, 2013, the day after Sócrates had met Carlos Santos Silva who handed over an amount of between €10,000 and €50,000.
Sócrates lawyer said that, "It is not surprising that both men wanted to maintain reasonable discretion given the social status of the co-defendant José Sócrates who naturally wanted to avoid speculation in the media that the friend helped him to maintain a certain lifestyle."
Much of the media has speculated that these payments were from backhanders and illicit payments accumulated by the then Prime Minister and held by his friend for later distribution on demand. This will be the case for the prosecution.