Details of the cash allegedly stolen by a PJ inspector attached to Lisbon’s crack anti-corruption squad have emerged today, with national tabloid Correio da Manhã explaining that the sight of seven million euros in two safes in a Cascais basement may have proved too much of a temptation.
The money – all confiscated as part of the Rota do Atlântico investigation into backhanders over oil and construction deals with the Republic of the Congo – was discovered by four PJ inspectors during the search of a house in the upmarket Quinta da Marinha area in February.
On the same day, police arrested former football promoter José Veiga, and businessman Paulo Santana Lopes – the brother of former PSD prime minister Pedro Santana Lopes.
But ownership of the money, even five months on, remains shrouded in confusion.
As CM explains, “neither Veiga, nor his associates, nor the Congolese finance minister Gilbert Ondongo” have claimed it.
With investigators busy trying to fit all the pieces of this massive puzzle together – readers may recall Veiga narrowly missed an opportunity to purchase Novo Banco Cape Verde (click here) – an informant threw yet another issue into the muddle.
CM claims the informant accompanied PJ inspector Emanuel Briosa to the money-filled basement in Quinta da Marinha, and saw him pocket a plastic-covered bundle containing 400 €500 notes with Italian serial numbers.
As the paper explains, siphoning off 200,000 euros among a stash of four million plus another 350 million in dollars could have been the perfect crime.
Indeed, Briosa is understood to have stolen the cash even before it was officially counted – making his alleged theft much more difficult to detect.
“But the colleague realised something was strange,” says CM – not really explaining what this was.
The tip-off to superiors was given, and months of hush-hush investigation ensued.
It did not take long before “outward signs of wealth” came to the surface, however.
Briosa purchased a café on the south of the river Tejo when he already had an apparent ‘lien’ on his earnings, CM explains.
Briosa was arrested on Tuesday and taken before magistrates on Wednesday.
CM says he confessed to having pocketed €40,000, but not to the full €200,000.
He has been remanded in custody to Évora jail, with the magistrate reportedly reminding him about another PJ inspector (Pereira Cristóvão) who “only confessed to his crimes after being sent to jail”.