Former Portuguese prime minister indicted on corruption charges

LISBON, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- The Portuguese Public Prosecutor formally accused ex-prime minister Jose Socrates of 31 crimes of corruption and fraud on Wednesday, according to Portuguese Lusa News Agency.

The charges relate to Socrates' arrest in 2014 on suspicion of corruption and are the result of a 4-year inquiry, known as Operation Marques.

The indictment includes 3 counts of passive corruption while holding political office, 16 counts of money laundering, 9 counts of forging documents and 3 counts of tax fraud.

Carlos Santos Silva, a businessman and a friend of Socrates, faces a similar charge sheet. He is believed to have been the intermediary between Socrates and Grupo Lena, a construction group. The former prime minister is said to have afforded business favors to the group in exchange for cash deposited in a Swiss bank account.

Payments into a Swiss bank account are also said to have come from Ricardo Salgado, former head of the now defunct Banco Espirito Santo (BES). Socrates is alleged to have used his political influence to persuade Portugal Telecom to adopt business strategies drawn up by Salgado.

The former chairman of Portugal Telecom, Zeinal Bava, is also facing graft charges, as is Armando Vara, former manager of the Caixa Geral de Depositos bank. There are 28 accused in total.

Socrates' defense lawyers called the case "unfounded, absurd and unsubstantiated" and promised to use all legal means to fight the charges.

Socrates was the prime minister between 2005 and 2011, when he resigned from office after being forced to request an international financial bailout for Portugal amid economic crisis.

[ Editor: meng ]


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