Four Arrested in Portugal Citizenship Fraud Case
The network provided false documentation from Goa, and Daman and Diu to facilitate acquisition of Portuguese citizenship.
Following a major international operation, four members of a ring that facilitated acquisition of Portuguese citizenship for Indian citizens through fraudulent paperwork were arrested in Lisbon. The four members, natives of Mozambique and India, were given jail terms between three and six years after raids were conducted in several countries, SEF, Portugal’s Immigration and Borders Service, said.
The acquisition of Portuguese citizenship allowed Indian citizens to migrate and settle in Europe. Under Portuguese citizenship law, those born in their colonies, such as Goa, and Daman and Diu, before Dec. 19, 1961 can apply for citizenship. The facility extends to their children. It has been taken up by thousands of people from the former colony in recent years. This loophole was what fraudulent networks took advantage of.
“The actions of the defendants aimed at raising Indian clients willing to pay monetary amounts in order to obtain Portuguese nationality. The network provided the necessary false documentation, including birth certificates from Goa, Daman and Diu,” SEF said in a statement earlier this month.
The ring reportedly charged nearly 30,000 Euros per person, and reportedly allowed entire families to avail of its fraudulent services.
“There was abundant evidence that many of those who acquired Portuguese nationality had identities different from those with which they fraudulently applied to claim Portuguese nationality,” the SEF said. “It was proved that the defendants organized themselves with the objective of obtaining economic profits with the processing and instruction of requests for Portuguese citizenship by citizens of Indian origin, making use of the documents required by law if necessary.”
The investigation into the network began after authorities in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom reported arrival of a large number of Portuguese citizens of Indian origin. These citizens had already requested for visa to these countries with their true identity.
The international operation resulted in seizure of a large number of documents, computer equipment, mobile phones, a car, credit cards, about 20,000 Euros, and a significant amount of gold and jewelry.
About 28,000 India-born UK residents with Portuguese nationality live in areas such as London, Swindon and Leicester, according to Britain’s Office for National Statistics, the Hindustan Times reported, adding that the Portuguese media quote a figure that is twice the size.
These citizens are part of the Brexit discourse on the stay of European Union citizens in the United Kingdom after its exit from the EU.