The Criminal Court of Lisbon declared provisional detention for the three suspects detained by the Immigration and Borders Service on June 2nd in the police operation «Livro Mágico» [“Magic Book”]. This operation dismantled a criminal network which ensured – through fraudulent means and in exchange for large amounts of money – the acquisition of Portuguese citizenship to foreign citizens allegedly born in the former Portuguese territories in India.
Fraud used in the acquisition of Portuguese citizenship:
- The procedure for citizenship acquisition starts with false documents (supposedly) certified by Indian Authorities through «Hague Apostille», a formality used for the international certification of documents.
- Certified documents (birth certificates or passports) are delivered in the Central Registry Office [Conservatória dos Registos Centrais] of Lisbon, together with the application for acquisition of Portuguese citizenship.
- Once the citizen acquires Portuguese citizenship, identity cards [cartão de cidadão] and passports are requested at the Portuguese diplomatic representations or in national territory.
- The identity cards enable these new Portuguese citizens to travel to other countries, such as the United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada, where they take up residence.
- Given that these citizens do not take up residence in Portugal nor have any family or social tie with the Country, this “phenomenon” does not have visibility in national territory, and for that reason it stays off the radar of national authorities.
- Portuguese citizenship has also been requested posthumously, i.e. the children of alleged citizens born before 1961 in the former Portuguese territories in India request Portuguese citizenship for their deceased parents, based in documents with no credibility and from which all the descendants also become Portuguese. There are also some doubts regarding the feasibility of documents submitted by those alleged “children of deceased citizens”.
- There were also several situations of children of the same mother with only two and three months age difference who have obtained Portuguese citizenship.
- Once the citizenship is acquired, the new “Portuguese citizens” marry with third-country nationals, resulting in the legalisation of the spouse in national territory and acquisition of Portuguese citizenship after three years. The members of the criminal organisation who ensured the acquisition of Portuguese nationality by fraudulent means acted in exchange for large amounts of money. Those residing in Portugal and those who maintained convenience residence also receive social benefits, such as income support allowance [rendimento social de inserção], unemployment or family benefits