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Church-backed institution accused of €3.3 million fraud

Porto mission allegedly used names of dead, and fictitious, to inflate State funding

At a moment when the Church has been assailed by bad press, there is a new blot in the form of a religious mission allegedly defrauding the State by as much as €3.3 million.

Jornal de Notícias has broken the story, rapidly picked up by online syndication.

The bottom line is that the Public Prosecutions office has accused the IPSS (charitable) institution of several crimes, including falsification of the number of people benefitting from its services, including the use of the names of the dead.

According to JN, those behind the alleged scheme resorted to a range of nefarious tactics in order to inflate State funding.

Former president of the institution, Américo Ribeiro, is cited as the alleged mastermind of the ruse which he controlled with the help of the treasurer of the time, a service director and two employees.

None of the people cited in the indictment filed by prosecutor Carla Oliveira are working at the Obra Diocesana now. Indeed, the alleged scheme is understood to date back to the years of 2009-2015.

Explain reports, the IPSS entity supports citizens in old age and disability, as well as children and families. In total there are 12 social centres spread throughout the city, with day centres, crèches, kindergartens and a home care network

“Of the €3.3 million that the Obra Diocesana damaged the State, around €631,000 has already been returned, or regularised”, the story continues. Thus the Public Prosecutions service now wants the various defendants to pay the remaining €2.7 million.

Looking back at stories of the past, the institution has been running for almost 60 years, and benefits from regular funding from Porto municipality.

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