A local man was arrested on Tuesday in Zape for producing and using counterfeit pataca banknotes, Judiciary Police (PJ) spokesman Lai Man Vai said during a special press conference at the PJ headquarters in Zape Thursday.
According to Lai, the suspect is a 28-year-old surnamed Ho, who worked at a government school in Areia Preta.
In a media briefing, Lou Pak Sang, director of the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ), said that Ho worked as a teaching assistant at the Luso-Chinese Vocational School in Rua 1 de Maio, who was responsible for maintaining the school’s servers and wasn’t involved in teaching. According to the bureau, the suspect started to work at the school in 2014.
Lai said that on Monday evening, the Judiciary Police received a report from the security staff of a casino in Cotai about a woman trying to use two counterfeit 500-pataca banknotes.
According to Lai, the woman, a 37-year-old sex worker from the mainland, received the banknotes from a client on Monday evening in Praia do Manduco area. Later that night she went to the casino to use the banknotes, which were then discovered to be bogus.
The Judiciary Police identified Ho as the suspect and went to his home in Zape on Tuesday evening to arrest him. Lai said that Ho had purchased online holographic threads for producing the fake money, and used the printing equipment at school and at his home to make the counterfeit money.
Lai said that the Judiciary Police went to the school to investigate on Wednesday along with officials from the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ). PJ officers found a number of counterfeit banknotes and half-finished ones with a total face value of more than 300,000 patacas. The police also seized evidence from his home computer, and his computer at school.
The suspect only produced take 500 pataca notes.
Lai said that Ho had been involved in four other similar fake money cases last September and last October. He did not elaborate.
Lai said the police believed that Ho paid sex workers with the bogus money as they were less likely to report the matter to the police.
Lai underlined that Ho produced the counterfeit banknotes on the photocopy machine in the school library after school hours. He described the bogus pataca notes as being of “medium quality”.
After a routine meeting at the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau yesterday, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng told reporters that he was “shocked” about the incident, adding that he was only aware of it after reading media reports. Tam said that he was waiting for a report from the bureau.
The bureau held a press conference along with Chan Ieng Lon, principal of the Luso-Chinese Vocational School, about the incident at the bureau. Chan stressed that the suspect didn’t have any direct contact with the school’s pupils, adding that the school had not received any sexual harassment complaints about Ho from pupils. DSEJ officials said preliminary investigations showed that Ho violated DSEJ regulations, pointing out that the has already been suspended from his position.
The suspect was transferred to the Public Prosecution Office (MP) for further investigation.