Tax ministry’s jailbird driver caught-up in nepotism row

A 24-year-old man working as the official driver for the Secretary of State for Finance Manuel Rodrigues was arrested this week after police found a 200-gram stash of hashish hidden in the government BMW he was driving.

Not only was the stash 20 times the limit allowed for personal use – leaving him liable for trafficking charges – driver Pedro Lopes was also found to have a criminal record, involving a16-month suspended prison sentence.

He is now in jail in Lisbon as questions are being asked as how a convicted felon came to get a plum government job in the first place.

Cascais24 blog claims Lopes is “the godson of one of the drivers attached to Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho’s office”.

Carrying the story, Jornal de Notícias writes that Lopes faces as much as 12 years if convicted on drug charges, and may even face further prosecution for breaching the terms of his suspended jail sentence.

His downfall came shortly after Lopes had “dropped the Secretary of State” off in Cascais and was then stopped by a routine police check on his way back home to Lisbon.

Intriguingly, Cascais24 maintains Lopes was hired in August last year, and that his appointment was published in the Diário de República.

In the dispatch, his birthdate was given as 1980 (which would make him 34 years old today), but the blog continues that it knows that the young man, “who used to work for Robbialac paints”, was born in 1990.

Meantime, “assessors for the Ministry of Finance” have apparently refused to make any comment.

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