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Macau police investigate lawyer's disappearance

The disappearance of Jorge Neto Valente has shocked the Portuguese community. There are about 1,000 Portuguese expatriates in Macau
The disappearance of Jorge Neto Valente has shocked the Portuguese community. There are about 1,000 Portuguese expatriates in Macau  

MACAU, China -- Macau police are investigating the case of a wealthy Portuguese lawyer who was dragged from his car in Macau.

Jorge Neto Valente was pulled from his black BMW as he drove home about 10p.m. on Wednesday. The case is classified as a missing person case.

Valente, who was a Macau legislator before the enclave's sovereignty handover, is believed to be the richest Portuguese in Macau. Information Bureau spokesman told Macau police have so far not been informed of any ransom demand.

On Wednesday night, police found a pair of shoes and a pair of broken spectacles lying in front of the abandoned BMW.

A Hong Kong newspaper reported that Valente had been dragged from his car by several men as he was driving home.

Valente was an appointed member of the Legislative Assembly until the handover in December 1999. He has lived in Macau for more than 30 years and still holds several prominent civic posts.

Top lawyer

He is regarded as a top lawyer in Macau and is a friend of Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio.

There are rumors about his disappearance, one being that the case could be connected to the controversy over the setting-up of a private foundation by the last Macau governor.

One newspaper reported that Valente belongs to the committee investigating the controversy.

It is believed that the ex-governor, General Vasco Rocha Vieira, transfered $50 million in public funds from Macau to his foundation in Lisbon just days before the handover on December 19, 1999.

But Macau legislator Antonio Ng, who has worked with Valente told that the three-member committee was disbanded last year and Valente was not appointed to the committee.

"I know Valente was never appointed by the Macau SAR government to that three-member committee. But I and other legislators have no idea if there's any investigation team formed in Portugal," he says.

Macau Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah has promised to give maximum attention to the case.

Before the handover, Macau was hit by a wave of gang violence, including killings and the attempted assassination of local civil servants and Portuguese officers.

Macau Government Information Bureau
Macau Government

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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