Ex-Benfica president arrested for corruption

Money (File)
Money (File)

Lisbon - A former president of Portuguese giants Benfica, Manuel Damasio, was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of influence peddling and money laundering, judicial sources told AFP.

The arrest came as part of an international corruption investigation, with police confirming they had detained "a 75-year-old man, entrepreneur in the property sector".

A source close to the investigation told AFP that the suspect in question was Damasio, the Benfica president between January 1994 and October 1997.

The investigation into "international business corruption, money laundering, influence peddling and tax fraud" was opened in late 2014.

Last month, Jose Veiga, a key figure behind the scenes at Benfica between 2004 and 2006, was charged as part of the investigation along with two lawyers, one of whom is Paulo Santana Lopes, the brother of former Portuguese prime minister Pedro Santana Lopes.

Police said their arrests were related to contracts for "public works, construction and the sale of petroleum products between different private and public entities."

Portuguese press reports linked the enquiry with business dealings involving Veiga, 52, and the Congolese president Denis Sassou Nguesso.

Veiga, who has acted as an agent to several players including former Portugal star Luis Figo, was remanded in custody while Paulo Santana Lopes was placed under house arrest

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