José “Joe” Berardo

Two apartments worth €4 million seized from ‘Joe’ “I -only-have-a-garage-in-my-name” Berardo

Two apartments worth €4 million in uptown Lisbon have been seized in the ugly battle between decorated art collector José ‘Joe’ Berardo and three Portuguese banks desperate to claw back almost €1 billion in unpaid loans.

Since the outrage registered when Berardo told a parliamentary committee that he had no debts – only a garage in Madeira in his name click here – efforts to push the boundaries to recover lost millions have accelerated.

Explain reports, the mechanism used to seize the two apartments was “rare”, and rested on Lisbon’s county court accepting arguments that Berardo transferred all his assets to companies “intentionally to avoid paying his debts”.

The court also took documents and statements from neighbours into account.

The properties were described as being used by Berardo whenever he was in the capital – the larger one acting as his home address.

The seizures were requested by State Bank CGD which is owed anything between €300 million and €500 million (depending on which newspapers one reads).

Diário de Notícias claims the ruling was made two weeks ago. Observador adds that Berardo himself says he knows nothing about it.

The seizures – one of a property in Lapa, worth €1.5 million, and the other in Avenida Infante Santo – may just be the beginning.

Said Sábado on Thursday, cited by DN, Berardo put six properties “worth millions” into an art association (Associação de Coleções) “to hide his patrimony”.

The weekly magazine claims the businessman created charitable institutions, associations and companies with the objective of protecting his property.

Bit by bit, the ‘suicide mission’ – as the banks’ legal moves were dubbed earlier this year – appears to be taking casualties.

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