It appears to have been incredibly easy. Legal aid lawyer José Carlos Afonso, 46, stands accused of swindling the State out of €93,000 by calculated fudging online. All it took was accessing the site with his password, and then he was free to concoct a busy life of litigation that “did not correspond to reality”, writes Correio da Manhã.
“Tens of cases” were logged, with corresponding requests for payment.
Afonso is accused not only of having defrauded the State out of €93,000, but also of “trying to receive another €21,000” which ended up being refused.
Details of the case date back to 2008 – three years before former Justice Minister Paula Teixeira da Cruz ordered an inquiry into €183 million in such legal aid payment requests, all backed up in the system.
According to Correio da Manhã, the inquiry “did not produce effects”.
It saw Teixeira da Cruz locked in a fight with former law association president, Marinho e Pinto – the man who went on to be elected Euro MP for the MPT-Earth Party, before switching his political allegiance and starting his own party, which failed spectacularly to get anywhere at the last elections.
CM observes that the investigation into Afonso’s online claims is the only one ever to have been concluded with any success – and it had nothing to do with any of the claims making up the €183 million.
Awaiting trial in Lisbon, Afonso remains a free man on the understanding that he remains in his area of residence.