He has been described in the national press as a “mega burlão” – major conman – and one of the Resident’s online readers has confirmed this, telling us she lost €20,000 as a result of her business dealings with Madeiran businessman Hernâni Gonçalves.
But last week, appeal court judges appeared to be setting Gonçalves free – on the basis of arguments put forward by his defence counsel Ricardo Candeias.
Candeias explained his client was “just a distributor” associated with the Get Easy company that fleeced a number of investors.
And he stressed the commodities company was not a pyramid scheme – despite the fact that it was thus labelled by both consumer watchdog DECO and the Bank of Portugal.
What happens next is unclear.
Spanish authorities have been after Gonçalves for a long time, and only recently managed to get PJ police on the businessman’s native home of Madeira to arrest him (click here).
The idea was for extradition to Spain to ensure he would face charges.
As reader Andrea, from Croatia, told us, she met Gonçalves in Lisbon “before everything went pearshaped”.
She said she knew about another of Hernani’s alleged frauds (Empire MLM) and “who was involved behind him in this scam”.
“I hope he gets 10 years prison,” she added, “because he destroyed a lot of lives”.
But the latest story – coming in today’s Correio da Manhã – would suggest Spanish authorities may be back at square one.