From early 2005 until 12 April 2006, G.V. – aware of the high number of Moldovan citizens wishing to go and work in Portugal – orchestrated a plan intended to facilitate the illegal entry of such individuals in Portugal. Her scope was to procure fraudulent work permits to interested Moldovans upon payment of 2000 Euro per person. This amount increased to 2500 Euro in November 2005. The work permits were issued at the Embassy of Portugal in Romania, in the context of a procedure that initiated in Portugal and depended of fictitious offers of work in Portugal. G.V. gathered the support of a number of people of her trust who assisted her in executing her criminal plan. The latter lied on three main vectors: (i) contact with, and recruitment of, interested migrants in Moldova; (ii) procurement of necessary documentation in Portugal (under the direct supervision of G.V.); (iii) supervision and coordination of the two afore-mentioned vectors (also under supervision of G.V). G.V. followed closely the different “individual files”, from the compilation of all relevant data and documents to referral to the consular services.
G.V., together with her closest associates, tried to gather the support of other persons necessary to the successful development of the criminal plan, notably businessmen (especially in the areas of construction and agriculture) who were willing to “sell” false offers of work. These businessmen perceived between 300 and 600 Euro for each fictitious job offer. They never intended to take on any migrant as a worker.
The appellant – a businessmen in the field of agriculture – was one of the persons who agreed to issue false offers of work, within the criminal scheme orchestrated by G.V., with the purpose of obtaining a financial gain. He never actually admitted any of such migrants at his service. It has not been determined the exact amount of the compensation he received for the job offer he issued.
Approximately in September 2005, G.V. delivered to the appellant the data of several Moldovan potential migrants. Acting upon it, the appellant prepared and signed the corresponding job offers. G.V. had established criminal links with individuals working in a number of governmental services, the positive feedback of which was essential to obtain the work permits for the interested Moldovan migrants. The members of the organised criminal group - if necessary in order to expedite the procedure - also falsified documents, e.g. by signing instead of the migrants. Various visas were issued as a result of this criminal venture. This scheme led to the entry in Portugal of several migrants in possession of documents fraudulently obtained.
At a certain stage, the Embassy of Portugal in Bucharest became suspicious of the number of offers of work issued by the same individuals. It then decided to suspend the consular files relating thereto. In view of the delay in obtaining the work permits and after being informed by the Embassy of Portugal that the concerned files were under investigation, G.V. attempted to destroy all documents connecting her to the criminal plan. Notably, she threw into rubbish containers, inter alia, one offer of contract issued by the appellant.
In ascertaining the facts, authorities relied on (i) interception of communications; (ii) documental evidence (e.g. the investigation retrieved at least 6 offers of work issued by the appellant dated 1 September and 10 November 2005), and; (iii) testimonial evidence (namely from the appellant and officers of the Service of Foreigners and Borders regarding the investigations carried out in this case).
The Court of First Instance of L convicted the appellant of one count of migrant smuggling (auxílio à imigração illegal).
The Court of Appeal of Évora (Portugal) partially overturned the decision.
For further details see “History of Proceedings” and “Commentary”.