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Benfica president must pay €3m to be released on bail, court rules

Lisbon – Luis Filipe Vieira, who suspended his duties as president of Portuguese club Benfica after being detained as part of an investigation into alleged tax fraud and money laundering, will have to pay €3 million (RM14.3 million) to be released on bail, a Lisbon court ruled on Saturday.

Vieira, 72, was taken into custody on Wednesday for questioning over deals worth more than €100 million that may have caused large losses to the state and several companies, public prosecutors said.

The court ruled on Saturday that Vieira would stay under house arrest until the three million euros bail is paid and ordered him to hand over his passport.

He has 20 days to pay the money, the court document said.

Vieira is also banned from contacting Benfica’s directors and managers.

The court said that the three other people arrested alongside Vieira, including his business partner and his son, will also be released on bail and will not be placed under house arrest.

Speaking outside the court, Vieira’s lawyer Manuel Magalhaes e Silva told reporters the ruling was “excessive”.

Local newspaper Sol said the investigation was related to loans granted by Portuguese lender Novo Banco to Vieira’s business group as well as to the sale of shares in Benfica SAD.

A parliamentary inquiry into Novo Banco found Vieira’s business group owed the bank around €400 million. Portugal’s Resolution Fund owns 25 per cent of Novo Banco.

Local media also reported Viera allegedly used Benfica’s money for his personal use.

In Viera’s absence, Benfica appointed vice president Rui Costa as the club’s interim head on Friday.

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