In what has been developing into a dramatic case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, PJ police are reported to be actively removing works of art from the mansion home of fugitive banker João Rendeiro.
Some news reports have even suggested that the entire contents of the property – bar a fridge, bed and cooker – could be impounded as authorities want to be seen to be taking what they regard as an ‘affront to Portuguese Justice’ seriously.
For the time being however focus is simply on the works of art – a number of which either seem to have gone astray, or appear to have been ‘substituted’ with bad forgeries.
Correio da Manhã explains the various paintings and sculptures have been (or are in the process of being) taken to a specialised company which will be tasked with analysing them to verify they are genuine.
CM says it “knows that of the 124 works apprehended (by Lisbon Criminal Court), 15 have disappeared. There are also at least three whose imitations are so glaringly bad that the PJ has no doubt of their falsification”.
The order to apprehend the works – which were already the subject of court seizure, but previously allowed to remain in situ – came from judge Tânia Loureiro Gomes, the same judge who emitted the international arrest warrants that are now current for the detention of João Rendeiro (who left the country in possession of his own passport last month click here).
CM adds that as ‘faithful trustee’ of the works, Mr Rendeiro’s wife Maria Jesus risks being cited for the crime of “embezzlement of public property” (or to translate literally: ‘embezzlement of a public thing’) – an offence that carries a five year jail term.
Mr Rendeiro ostensbily left Portugal in order not to serve a 10-year-jail term that has exhausted avenues of appeal (click here), and to avoid others coming through the system.
His wife meantime faces explaining to the court the discrepancies that may be verified in the art inventory.