THE POLÍCIA JUDICIÁRIA is investigating Millennium bcp over alleged crimes of fraud and money laundering.
The order to undertake the investigation was given by the legal department which investigates commercial crime, the DIAP, Departamento de Investigação e Acção Penal, last week.
The investigation, which is still in its early stages, was handed over to four investigative police officers who are also working on the Independente University case, which is almost concluded.
The same team also worked on the notorious AfinWorld art dealing scam involving the Cascais-based company Afinsa Portugal that was selling works of art for well over their true value.
The police investigators are said to be particularly experienced at examining offshore companies and capital transfers.
“We’re talking about an extremely large and complicated case which, for the time being, is limited to investigating fraud and money laundering,” various police sources told the Portuguese media.
However, the investigating officers have not ruled out the involvement of criminal organizations.
The first person to be called to help police in their enquiries is likely to be the Millennium bcp shareholder and billionaire art collector Joe Berardo, who helped topple the founding former Chairman Jardim Gonçalves last month.
José Berardo, originally from Madeira, made his fortune in South Africa and holds seven per cent of the bank’s shares and has already handed over damning evidence to the Procurator-General of the Republic, the state prosecution department.
The documents are said to prove various cases of fraud committed by various members of past boards of directors at the bank, which has seen 30 per cent of its value dissolve in the past six months and shares plummet from a 4.50 euros high last year to 1.90 euros last week.
The Economic Corruption and Financial Crime Investigative Committee, Direcção-Central de Investigação da Corrupção e Criminalidade Económica e Financeira (DCICCEF), is also to call Berardo, former temporary CEO Filipe Pinhal, former Chairman Jardim Gonçalves, shareholder Goês Ferreira and former ousted CEO Paulo Teixeira Pinto amongst others to give or answer to evidence.
The news, involving Millennium bcp, Portugal’s largest private bank, is the largest and worst financial scandal in modern Portuguese financial history, involving widespread corruption, favouritism, financial mismanagement and incompetence, and now fraud and money laundering.
Millennium bcp was founded in 1985 by Jardim Gonçalves and has financial operations in Greece, Poland, and the United States amongst other countries.
It has a total of 159,000 shareholders with Jose Berardo, Teixeira Duarte and EDP amongst the most important. Millennium bcp publicly presented its financial results for 2007 on Tuesday, February 19.
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