Investigation into ‘historic’ €5 million Vilamoura yachting furore detains new suspect

The alleged fraud goes back to 2012: four multi-millionaire customers – among them an Arab sheik and two Portuguese construction magnates – paid for luxury yachts which, according to media reports, they never received.

PJ police have already cited seven people in the alleged scam, but now they have detained the Brazilian wife of “chief suspect” José Silvestre, says tabloid Correio da Manhã, when she “returned to Portugal” from Brazil.

A statement by the PJ confirms that there was an arrest warrant out for the woman, so far unnamed.

The 38-year-old flew into Europe via Madrid, and was arrested after she entered Portugal by car.

Suspected of the “co-authorship of crimes of aggravated fraud, breach of trust, document forgery and money-laundering”, the woman was later released after giving a guarantee of €30,000, says CM.

There is no date yet for a trial. CM suggests the investigation remains “in course”, and the ‘key’ – 45-year-old Silvestre, described as a “businessman of Vilamoura” – is living in Brazil.

Says the paper, he was arrested for his role in the alleged fraud in 2015, but released on payment of €100,000 bail.

The nuts and bolts of this case centre on four ‘millionaire’ clients and a Spanish-based yacht company – for whom Silvestre was acting as distributor – having lost “more than €5 million”.

The alleged victims are believed to include construction magnates Manuel Couto Alves and João Gama Leão and sheik Mohamed Arif Ben Khadra .

Said the PJ’s statement, issued on Wednesday, “of the money involved in the frauds, around 2,700,000 euros and 3,200 euros have been apprehended, found deposited in various bank accounts”.

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