Portimão court to decide fate of Lagos’ “swindling solicitor”

Whatever the judgement, the former Lagos solicitor accused of swindling clients – most of them Brits – out of “large sums of money” will never operate again.

Correio da Manhã reports that the Public Ministry is calling for a suspended prison sentence for Maria José Dias, aged 60 – and that this has been supported by the woman’s lawyer.

In addition, “the defendant cannot return to exercising her profession as a solicitor”.

Needless to say, many of Dias’ clients want to see her behind bars, and made them all back the money they lost.

This dismal case goes back years, and saw two of Dias’ victims telling the panel of judges about their losses back in October.

Mary Elizabeth Keen, 72, gave evidence of a house sale in 2010 in which Dias deducted €48,000 for tax payments which were never made, while Gordon Hewitt of Lagos described an apartment sale which saw him coming off €22,000 the worse.

More witnesses have been heard by the court which heard that damages in total exceed €180,000.

Dias faces four convictions for qualified abuse of confidence, and one for simple abuse. She has confessed to “part of the facts” laid against her, citing “life circumstances” in mitigation, and this, explains CM, is behind the Public Ministry’s call for a suspended prison sentence.

As it is, Dias’ office closed in Lagos in 2013 – and it was since this date that her clients “could no longer get in touch with her”.

CM added that “among the victims is a British couple who decided to sell the house they had in Lagos, in a deal led by the defendant”.

Dias “received cheques in the value of €100,000 and, after the deduction of expenses, the couple was due to receive more than €27,000”.
But Dias “only gave them €5,000”.

Whether victims will consider justice done in this case once the verdict comes through has to be weighed against the time it has taken to get their complaints dealt with. As CM explains, the issues involved relate to business undertaken by Dias between 2011-2012.

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