A number of Chinese citizens claim they have been swindled by their own countrymen in an elaborate Golden Visa fraud which appears to have netted around €20 million.
Said reports over the weekend, the public ministry is now investigating.
High-profile in the controversy is said to be the right hand man in Portugal of Casino mogul Stanley Ho, explains Público.
Choi Man Hin (who also signs documents in the name of Man Hin Choi) is the president of the administrative council of Estoril Sol (the company that runs casinos in Póvoa, Estoril and Lisbon, among other businesses), and president of the Portuguese-Chinese businesspeople’s association.
But he’s in the eye of authorities now, as one of the people in charge of POAO II – a company set up in 2011 to promote tourism and real estate in Portugal.
As such POAO II seems to have reeled in a number of Chinese families (Público cites as many as 50) who were encouraged to make investments (in return for Golden Visas).
The issue seems to be that the money paid (as much as €20 million) was ploughed into ‘warehouses’ in an isolated retail centre in Benevente when investors were under the impression they were buying shops in a well-known shopping complex near Lisbon.
Purchase contracts drawn up in Portuguese and translated into Chinese differed in their wording. The Chinese for ‘shop’ was translated into ‘warehouse’ in Portuguese – a property many of the plaintiffs explain they would “never have bought” had they known.
As it is, POAO II has gone bust, with debts of over €4 million – and the Chinese families stung for investment claim they have nothing to show for their money.
Jin Wenjun, one of the plaintiffs, has explained that the warehouse site “looks like a ghostown” as so few properties are occupied.
Público appears not to have been able to talk to Choi Man Hin or any of the other POAO representatives personally. One associate referred journalists to POAO’s lawyer Glória Ribeiro who apparently said she could not respond.