Media billionaire accused of involvement in alleged illegal adoption network that “stole dozens of Portuguese children”

Brazilian media billionaire Edir Macedo is being accused of involvement in an alleged illegal adoption network that stole dozens of Portuguese children during the 90s.

The accusation comes in an explosive series of reports compiled by investigative journalists working for TVI24.

“O Segredo dos Deuses” will air its first episode this (Monday) evening, after the 8pm news.

It sets out to explain how “several children belonging to Portuguese families experiencing financial hardship” were delivered into the custody of a home run by the IURD (Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus, or Universal Church of the Kingdom of God), an evangelical movement lead by Macedo, the owner and chairman of Brazil’s second largest television network Rede Record.

According to investigators Alexandra Borges and Judite França, these children then “disappeared”, ending up abroad and “adopted in an irregular way” by figures within the movement.

Pre-publicising the programme, Público has run with allegations that even “the grandchildren of Edir Macedo” were “stolen” from the children’s home which IURD ran in Lisbon.

Says the paper, the TVI report has “managed to identify dozens of families whose children were taken, and who have spoken about the situation for the first time”.

As Alexandra Borges explained, getting this story out 20 years ago simply was not possible.

She told TVI news anchor Judite Sousa of mothers who “tried everything” to alert authorities to what was happening but got nowhere

These mothers today are not expecting to win back custody of their children – who are all now fully grown. They simply want to make them aware that they did not abandon them, she said.

The seven-month-long investigation may also impel the Portuguese State to finally respond to the mothers for whom there were no answers, even when they went to court in some cases seeking them.

“This is a very serious story of an illegal place in which Social Services placed children and from which those children disappeared to be handed over to bishops and pastors for raising” within the religious community, she said.

The extraordinary allegations will be broadcast in 10 episodes, Monday to Friday, from this evening up to December 22.

Social Services meantime is said to have opened an inquiry.


With this story being repeated time and again over national media, the IURD has issued a statement rejecting TVI’s investigation, saying it is “based on the false testimony of a former bishop” connected to the religious movement.

Edir Macedo’s two grandchildren – purportedly ‘stolen’ from a single mother in Amadora, along with another sibling who has since died – have also resorted to Youtube to say their adoptions were completely legal.

Here, Pedro do Carmo, deputy national director of the PJ has told reporters that whatever may have happened all those years ago, any ‘crimes’ will have now exceeded judicial time limits – which in the case of child kidnapping run for 20 years.

Edir Macedo’s grandchildren were ‘adopted’ in 1995, thus the legality of their adoption can no longer be challenged through the courts, he said.

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