Dirty money taken through the capital.jpg

Dirty money taken through the capital

PORTUGUESE SPECIAL branch police agents have succeeded in dismantling the financial activities of a criminal group, operating in Angola, Mozambique and Lisbon.

The PJ have so far identified six individuals and made 38 residential searches in the homes of those suspected of being involved in a money laundering operation.

The authorities believe that they have uncovered various situations, which do not, at face value, appear to be linked, but which share the common denominator of frequently sending “dirty” money to Portugal.

Lisbon is being used as part of the money laundering operation. The monies are later used to invest in legal business activities, while sums in small fractions have been deposited in various bank accounts to evade detection by the tax system and Bank of Portugal.

Authorities also say that they have detected the transferral of monies to a wide variety of bank accounts in various countries, particularly in Asia.

The money, earned from illegal and criminal activities in Mozambique, Angola and Dubai, is brought into Portugal in hand luggage by so-called dirty money runners.

The runners normally have no direct link with the illegal activities, but are paid to bring in quantities of dollars into Portugal on a regular basis.

Police have discovered that the runners stay in Portugal for a short period of time and their passports are full of stamps from various countries, suggesting their high level of mobility.

The vast majority of runners apprehended by the police have been arrested and are now in police custody where they will be questioned as to who gave them the money and where it came from.

Some of the men identified last week were of Indian and Pakistani origin, while others were Portuguese. All were young.

In searches carried out on November 14, by the Direcção-Central de Combate à Criminalidade Económica e Financeira de PJ, several of the suspected individuals were found to have large quantities of cash at home, ranging from between 40,000 to 200,000 euros and 10,000 US dollars. One suspect had 300,000 euros in cash stashed away.

The investigation, which also involves anti-drug smuggling units, was launched three years ago and, so far, has uncovered illicit money from fraud, burglary and drug smuggling.

Police believe that the estimated amount of illegally-gotten money sent into Portugal, mainly from Angola during that time, amounts to 1.8 million euros.