Portuguese millionaire art collector detained in tax fraud probe
Portuguese art collector Joe Berardo, who was once one of the country’s richest men and showcased major works by Miró and Mondrian in his own museum, was detained by the police on Tuesday in an investigation of money laundering and fraud.
Berardo has been under scrutiny by authorities for years, suspected of committing crimes relating to nearly a billion euros of loans received from Portuguese banks.
The public prosecutors’ office and police said 76-year-old Berardo and one of his lawyers were detained on Tuesday as part of an investigation of loans granted by Portugal’s largest bank, the state-owned Caixa Geral de Depositos (CGD), to an economic group led by Berardo.
Berardo and his lawyer were not immediately available for comment. In May 2019, Berardo told a parliamentary committee that he had no debts in his name and that the loans he requested were for companies he was associated with.
The police said in a statement the group received 439 million euros ($522.81 million) in loans from CGD from 2006 to 2009. It allegedly “breached contracts (with CGD) and resorted to debt renegotiation and restructuring mechanisms in order to avoid amortisation”, it said.
The prosecutors’ office said CGD’s internal procedures for granting the loan as well as its subsequent restructuring and credit recovery process did not comply with “good banking practices and may constitute the practice of crime”. CGD declined to comment.