Court releases VIP banker suspected of “vanishing” €20 million in clients’ fortunes

A less than edifying photograph of the high-flying financial consultant suspected of vanishing over €20 million of her rich clients’ fortunes appeared in the national press over the weekend after she was finally run to ground and presented before magistrates for qualified fraud, abuse of confidence and falsification of documents.

Ana Mafalda Prazeres, 57 – the woman whose photograph previously showed her bronzed, smiling and well-coiffured – appeared in newspapers and on television pale and crumpled as she was led from Lisbon’s Tribunal of Criminal Instruction on Saturday evening.

Absent from her offices in Lisbon – and not answering phone calls from increasingly worried clients since the first week of April – the great-niece of Portugal’s post-revolution president António Spínola was finally detained on Friday.

According to SIC notícias, she faces a total of 18 separate complaints from investors who say they were duped by her stories and have lost millions.

One family in the well-heeled area of Negrais in Sintra is understood to have been fleeced of €5 million (click here).

The worst of this story is that Prazeres’ pyramid-style scheme appears to have targeted lifelong friends.

An exposé by national tabloid Correio da Manhã suggests a compulsion for gambling fueled the alleged fraud and sees casinos among the list of creditors, as well as former clients.

For now, Prazeres has been released pending further investigation.

She has been remanded on the basis that she remains within her area of residence and does not get in touch with any of the people who she is understood to have defrauded.

Meantime, the bank for whom Prazeres claims to have been working – Novo Banco’s Best Bank – is refusing to take any responsibility for the fraud, assuring reporters that as far as it is concerned “the movements in clients’ accounts” were all perfectly normal.

Concerns are that Prazeres took out credit cards in her clients’ names and ran up huge bills.

A source for PJ investigators has already suggested that the ‘final tally’ could run to “more than €20 million”, adds SIC notiícias.

[email protected]