Arrested in Lisbon earlier this week, Aurora Boaventura has become the latest solicitor suspected of lining her pockets while ostensibly exercising her profession.
Following on from the arrest last year of Francisco Duarte, president of the association of enforcement agents – and detention of her former partner of António Gomes da Cunha, himself accused of ‘diverting’ more than €500,000 from cases between 2008 and 2011 – Boaventura appears to have superceded colleagues, writes Diário de Notícias.
The 55-year-old with two plush offices in the capital is suspected of perpetrating “one of the largest frauds” ever committed by a national solicitor “allegedly having diverted at least €2.5 million from her enormous list of case files.
DN suggests Boaventura handled 8000 cases involving property seizures and liens, while national tabloid Correio da Manhã claims it was more like 10,000.
Whatever the number, both agree, she went from “one of the most sought-after enforcement agents” in the country on Wednesday, to being an official defendant, sleeping the night in Tires jail, and facing criminal charges of embezzlement, IT falsification and money-laundering.
CM claims the case is far from being an isolated disgrace, and poses a serious problem for judicial proceedings as much of the money appears to have been spirited out of the country and “privately invested”.
Damaged by her alleged frauds are both private creditors and the State. But as DN explains, the bottom line of Boaventura’s actions have yet to be established.
The paper claims she “pocketed” money by “altering creditors’ bank details (NIBs) so that funds went into accounts in her name, instead of those of her clients.
She then transferred the money out of Portugal altogether, adds CM.
The alleged scheme ran for “two to three years” before “suspicious activity” was flagged by what CM calls the “enforcement agents’ enemy” – an automatic system tracking banking activity and sounding alerts when money-moving changes habitual patterns.
DN adds that for the time being, Boaventura’s assets have been frozen, along with her bank accounts.
Searches of her offices and home have also resulted in police apprehending “relevant documentation”.
“The objective is to try and recover a large part of the millionaire sums she will have appropriated”, a source for the PJ told the paper.
Meantime, DN reveals that 37 solicitors were expelled from their national chamber between 2012-2014 – most of them for crimes.
President of the chamber João Carlos Resende told DN there were only “three or four exceptions”, adding that every year execution agents recover around €600 million in money owed.