Opponents query Portugal premier over tax affairs


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LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal's prime minister is under growing political pressure to explain reported discrepancies in his sources of income and how much he declared for tax purposes during the 1990s.

The main opposition Socialist Party demanded Thursday that Pedro Passos Coelho provide a "complete, detailed" account of the matter.

Questions arose after media reported allegations that Passos Coelho received payments as a company consultant from 1995-1999, when he claimed he was working exclusively in parliament as an elected legislator. Legislators must choose between living exclusively off their salary or also working outside their parliamentary duties, in which case they receive a lower salary from parliament.

Passos Coelho, whose center-right government has in recent years overseen an austerity program that included steep tax rises and a crackdown on tax evasion, has said he doesn't remember full details of his income for that period.

He has asked the attorney-general's office to investigate whether he broke the law, with investigators expected to consider whether any payments he received were illicit, whether all due taxes were paid, and whether Passos Coelho misled parliament. There is no deadline for the completion of the investigation.

The statute of limitations on any potential tax fraud has expired, but if any wrongdoing is found, the political damage to Passos Coelho's reputation could compel him to resign.

Passos Coelho's Social Democratic Party, the major partner in a coalition government that has ruled since 2011, said Thursday it has "unshakable confidence" in the prime minister.

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Barry Hatton

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