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Revealed: the secret ‘forced labour’ migration route from Vietnam to the UK | Global development

Voice Of EU



When construction began to great fanfare in 2019, the Linglong car tyre factory outside of Belgrade was heralded as the jewel in the crown of Serbia’s burgeoning strategic partnership with China.

Two years later, 500 Vietnamese construction workers were allegedly found last month working in conditions of forced labour with their passports confiscated and living in cramped and degrading conditions.

Vietnam migrants map

The case has shocked Serbians with the European parliament demanding answers as to how a major case of human trafficking could have apparently been allowed to fester in the heart of Europe.

Yet Linglong factory was only the first stop in a much longer journey towards the UK and Europe for many of the workers found at the factory.

An Observer investigation has found that Serbia and Romania are being used as new gateways to Europe for smuggling and trafficking gangs who are using guest worker visa programmes to transport large numbers of Vietnamese workers into eastern Europe. There they are often exploited in factories and construction sites before some are transported across land borders into the EU and, eventually, to the UK.

At all stages along the way, Vietnamese workers are highly likely to fall into forced labour or debt bondage, often charged up to £30,000 for passage to the UK.

In 2019, the death of 39 Vietnamese migrants in a lorry container highlighted the dangers that many face when attempting to reach the UK. Those who do arrive safely are often forced to pay off their debts in nail bars, restaurants and cannabis farms, with Vietnamese people one of the largest groups of modern slavery victims in the UK year after year.

Nusrat Uddin, a trafficking specialist from Wilson Solicitors LLP, regularly acts for victims of trafficking and modern slavery in the UK. She said that many of her recent clients started their journey by flying on work visas into Serbia or Romania: “Almost all [our clients were] promised decent work with fair wages, but the reality is far from that. Many then travel onwards through Europe, again under the false premise of better conditions elsewhere.”

According to interviews with Vietnamese workers, the Vietnam to Serbia migration route began operating in the summer with more than 500 workers flying on guest worker visas from August-October. Each worker was charged around £1,700, generating at least £850,000 in revenue for recruitment agencies arranging visas, jobs and travel.

Tuan* travelled from Vietnam to Serbia on a guest worker visa after seeing an ad on Facebook promising well-paid work in a German-owned tyre factory. He ended up at Linglong.

“When I arrived I found that the factory was basically buying Vietnamese workers and when you got there you had to do whatever they told you to do,” he said.

They took his passport and told him his salary was half that promised. He says he was forced to sleep 50 to a room. “Many of us got Covid … and we didn’t even get any medicine,” he added. “The water was very bad, it was yellow and undrinkable and sour. The food was also very bad and not enough, sometimes we would go into the forest and hunt for food, anything we could catch, like rabbits.”

Tuan says that out of those he was working alongside at the Linglong factory, 30 have already left Serbia for the UK, France and Germany, and many more were planning to go.

He says since the tragedy of the lorry container deaths, new smuggling routes via Serbia and other eastern European countries had become increasingly popular.

“For people who want to go to the UK, going to Serbia first is cheap. It only costs 50m VND (£1,626) for the visa, whereas the people who died in the lorry had to go many months on a dangerous route. So this choice is an easy one.”

The Observer’s investigation found that workers who continued on to the EU and UK from the Balkans could take several routes, with smuggling networks taking Vietnamese people across the border into Romania and then on to Slovakia, Germany and France. They then waited in a makeshift camp for the chance to take an inflatable raft to the UK.

Mimi Vu, an anti-trafficking expert living in Vietnam, has spent the past months researching the links between bilateral visa schemes in eastern Europe and the exploitation of Vietnamese migrant workers.

“A key selling point to the Serbia route is that, like Romania, you can migrate legally through the reciprocal visa arrangements and it only costs a few thousand pounds, which is seen as a great bargain compared to the more traditional routes of going through Moscow or one of the central EU countries such as Poland or the Czech Republic into Europe, which can cost up to £30,000,” she said.

“In the case of the Linglong factory, people were either coming because they were promised work in a German-owned factory or as a new Balkans gateway to the UK and Europe.”

A cannabis factory in a former Coventry nightclub.
A cannabis factory in a former Coventry nightclub. Many Vietnamese who make it to the UK are forced to pay off their debts in cannabis farms. Photograph: NCA/PA

Vu says that the exploitation that workers like Tuan face when they arrive in countries such as Serbia and Romania also provides a huge incentive for workers to try to move into Europe and the UK in search of better paid work.

Debt is also a major driver for people to try to move.

The Observer has seen paperwork, called “Commitment not to escape forms” from Vietnamese recruitment agencies arranging guest worker visas for Serbia where workers must sign an agreement that their families must pay more than a year’s salary within a week if workers leave jobs.

“Most people who leave Vietnam have family who have raised money for them to leave and they feel they can’t go back without paying off their debts,” said Vu. “So if they’re not earning what they’ve been promised in Serbia then the promise of higher paid work elsewhere is a huge incentive to leave.”

Tuan says many of the Vietnamese he had been working with at Linglong had to raise thousands to pay for their passage into Europe.

“Some who had been working at the factory with me had arranged to go to the UK before they arrived in Serbia,” he said. “I think they have to pay [smuggling gangs] around £6,000 to get them there from Romania. The smugglers would call family members in Vietnam to arrange to get the money so they could continue with their journey.”

While Serbia is believed to be a new landing post used by criminal gangs, Romania, which signed a bilateral visa agreement with Vietnam in an effort to fill a huge manual labour shortage in 2018, is already established as a point of entry into Europe.

Many also find themselves trapped in exploitative and dangerous work when they arrive there.

Manh*, arrived in Romania with 60 other workers from Vietnam in 2019 to work for a major construction firm. By the end of his contract in 2021, half had crossed the border towards the UK and Europe.

“Many ran away just one or two months after arrival,” he said. Manh’s brother, who worked for a different company in Romania, was among the many who left the country. “The pay in Romania was too low,” he said.

Manh says he is now trapped in Romania. His contract expired in March and his employer has refused to extend it, leaving him working without a valid residence permit and unable to afford his flight home.

When asked if he had any plans to leave Romania to search for work, he replied: “It’s a secret.”

Over the past five years at least 231 Vietnamese people were intercepted trying to cross into Europe according to data from the Romanian border police. Hungarian police intercepted another 101 in the same period. Experts like Vu estimate this is only a very small portion of Vietnamese who leave Romania into western Europe.

“​​As a new modus operandi, Vietnamese citizens enter Romania legally, based on work visas, and are subsequently detected on their way out of the country, trying to illegally cross the border,” a spokesperson from the Romanian border police told the Observer.

Social media plays a central role for smuggling gangs. Facebook groups visited by the Observer offer “VIP” routes in private cars out of Romania. Packages are advertised with the dialling codes of the destination countries, with buyers able to pick the “44” package for the UK, “49” for Germany and “33 for France”. Prices fell during the pandemic, but a trip to the UK can still cost over £10,000.

The reality of these VIP trips is harsh. Vietnamese migrants caught trying to leave Romania illegally by the country’s border police have been found hiding behind boxes of fruit or packed in minivans with “fake walls”.

In the past year, people smuggling of Vietnamese migrants out of Romania has continued despite border restrictions caused by the pandemic.

Trung, 36, now lives in Germany undocumented after having worked legally in Romania, taking the journey in the midst of a locked-down Europe in October 2020.

Migrants off the port of Calais
Migrants off the port of Calais: Vietnamese migrants have little choice but to take this risky route post-Brexit Photograph: Marine Nationale/AP

Trung wanted to stay in Romania, but his employer refused to update the paperwork that would have let him remain legally in the country. He says he was faced with a choice of paying for forged paperwork or taking the risky journey to Germany.

“The pay in Romania is only slightly higher than in Vietnam,” said Trung, whose Romanian employer paid him US$750 per month. Trung knew the dangers of travelling west, but he went anyway. “I believe in fate. Deciding to go is like a game of cards: chances of success are 50-50.”

Yet for those trying to reach the UK, the perils are greater than those destined for France or Germany. Regardless of whatever VIP package they might have purchased to ensure safe passage, all must attempt the Channel crossing on flimsy rubber boats.

“Historically, Vietnamese smugglers have had their own networks helping them get people to the UK in the back of lorries, but after Brexit and the resulting driver shortages and the 2019 container deaths they have had to pivot to using boat crossings that are controlled by non-Vietnamese smugglers,” says Vu. “In interviews I’ve conducted with Vietnamese who have made it to the camps in Dunkirk or across the Channel to the UK, all have said that crossing by boat is the only option.”

She says that smugglers are telling Vietnamese in the makeshift camps in Dunkirk to stay apart and are then deliberately limiting the number of Vietnamese they are sending per boat so that they would be less visible among other ethnic groups.

Last week, it was revealed that one of the 27 people who drowned while attempting the crossing last month was Vietnamese. Media reports named him as Le Van Hau, from the Nghe An province in Vietnam, who reportedly paid around £10,000 to find legal work in Poland before leaving immediately for France to attempt the Channel crossing.

Once in the UK, and with thousands of pounds of debt, Vietnamese people become one of the most vulnerable groups to be trafficked into forced labour, debt bondage and sexual exploitation. Official Home Office figures show that Vietnamese were the third largest national group to be identified as victims of modern slavery. There were 653 Vietnamese people confirmed as victims of slavery in 2020, with the majority discovered in cannabis farms and nail bars.

Last month, in a freezing migrant camp in Dunkirk, two young Vietnamese men huddled together for warmth, one of a group of around 20 or 30 scattered among hundreds of others refugees in the wasteland of tents. They said they left their home in Vietnam because of flooding, and borrowed money from loan sharks for their visa to Serbia in order to travel to the UK to find work in nail bars. When they got to the UK, they would owe an additional £18,000.

“It has taken us two months to get here but finally the end is in sight,” said one, breaking off from a FaceTime call with his wife and small child in Vietnam. “I don’t know when I’ll get to go home, I can’t return empty-handed.”

* Names have been changed

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‘She asked me, will they kill you if they discover you?’: Afghan girls defy education ban at secret schools | Afghanistan

Voice Of EU



When inspectors arrive at the school gate, which is most weeks now, the older girls know the drill. They slip away from their classes, race to a musty room and huddle together for long minutes that sometimes stretch into hours, hoping they won’t be discovered by the men who want them shut up at home.

The Taliban have banned secondary education for girls, the only gender-based bar on studying in the world.

One year on from the withdrawal of US troops and the militant group’s takeover of the country, learning algebra is now an illegal act of resistance. Teenagers who should be worrying about complex equations, English grammar or Persian poetry, also have to weigh up what happens if they are found in a classroom.

Students leave a secret girls’ school in Afghanistan in July
Students leave a secret girls’ school in Afghanistan in July. Photograph: Nanna Muus Steffensen/The Guardian

“I have noticed plenty of changes in our students,” said Arezoo* headteacher of one Kabul school that decided to keep its doors open to high school girls in defiance of the ban.

“Psychologically they are under stress all the time, I can see in their eyes and behaviour. They used to come with lots of energy and excitement. Now they are never sure if this will be their last day in class. You can see how they are broken.”

Some inspections last hours and the fear spills over. “Even the younger girls (who are allowed in school) are affected. When we say the Taliban are coming and the older girls have to hide, the girls in 3rd and 4th grade start crying.”

Taliban officials claim the ban is temporary, variously citing the need to change security, uniforms, teachers, buildings or the curriculum. But many Afghans remember last time the group controlled Afghanistan, when a “temporary” closure of girls’ schools endured for their entire six-year rule.

So as girls slid into depression, robbed of their dreams of becoming doctors, pilots, engineers, teachers orartists, women and men around Afghanistan began fighting back.

A student holds a sign she has prepared for the Guardian’s visit to a secret girls’ school
A student holds a sign she has prepared for the Guardian’s visit to a secret girls’ school. Photograph: Nanna Muus Steffensen/The Guardian

“I told my mother I had this idea, to reopen classes for high school girls, and asked her what she thought,” said Jawad*, who manages one private school that decided to reopen secondary classes.

“She asked me, ‘will they kill you if they discover you?’ I told her no, they will probably just hit me. So she said ‘Do it, you’ll forget a slap in an hour or two.’”

“Secret schools” have sprung up all over the country, as varied as the educators running them. Some are online classes, though they can only reach the minority of Afghans with smartphones and data access.

Some are private schools, operating much as they did before, apart from the long shadow of fear. Others are much more improvised efforts, designed as much to keep up morale and girls studying something in the hopes schools will reopen, than as a substitute for formal education.

Two girls take refreshment after class
Two girls take refreshment after class. Photograph: Nanna Muus Steffensen/The Guardian

Improvised efforts

“In the beginning everyone was crushed and disappointed, and they would even question what is the point of studying,” said Mahdia*, who set up a school teaching 7th grade classes in a mosque close to her semi-rural home near a provincial capital.

An engineer who recently graduated near the top of her class at one of Afghanistan’s best universities, the 23-year-old worked on infrastructure projects until last summer, and misses her job terribly. But she sees little chance of being allowed back.

“Some positions in some ministries are still open to women, but for engineering a lot of our work is in the field and the Taliban are strongly against it for women. All my [female] classmates are unemployed, there is nothing for them to do.”

A girl participates in a math class
A girl participates in a maths class. Photograph: Nanna Muus Steffensen/The Guardian

So while she studies English and looks for scholarships to do a further engineering degree in another country, she decided to teach local girls.

She negotiated with a mosque to hold the classes there – she comes from a Shia community that has avidly supported girls’ education over the past two decades – and got practical support from an NGO, Shahmama, which provides text books and stationery, and is raising funds to pay the teachers a small stipend.

“I do this as a volunteer, to support the girls and create hope in their future, and the girls also give me hope,” Mahdia said.

On a recent afternoon, her students slipped across the fields in pairs in the afternoon heat, books in hand like girls going to school in any other country. When they noticed a stranger watching though, they gathered speed and ducked inside the mosque.

The group includes one girl who was within weeks of finishing 11th grade when the previous government collapsed, three who were in 9th grade, 11 who were in 8th grade and six who were in 7th grade.

“Of course, sometimes we feel bad to be back in 7th grade, but it’s better than sitting at home doing nothing,” said Zarifa*, who has gone back two years. “We get to meet classmates and revise our lessons.”

Mahdia teaches one subject, for an hour a day, but assigns homework to keep the girls busy in the long hours at home when it is easy to start thinking about everything that has been lost. She starts and ends each session with a motivational talk.

“Every day when we start and finish I talk to them a bit, and try to motivate them, with messages like ‘no knowledge is wasted’. I tell them I am here to teach and support you, you have to stay hopeful, take your opportunities.”

A class gets underway
A class gets under way. Photograph: Nanna Muus Steffensen/The Guardian

Defiance and compromise

Schools such as Mahdia’s are beacons of hope in a bleak time, and many of their students are filled with extraordinary defiance of the armed men who cut short their studies.

“I have my argument ready if a Taliban stops me. I will say ‘you didn’t study so you are like this, I have to study so I won’t be the same,’” said Hasinat*, a 7th grade student.

But the compromises so many girls and teachers have made to be there – repeating grades, hiding from inspectors, swallowing the loss of their own careers – underline how much has been stolen from the women of Afghanistan by its new rulers.

And many of the adults running these schools fear their work will not be able to continue indefinitely, because of financial and official pressure.

Illegal classes kept girls’ dreams alive last time the Taliban were in power. Those who defied the Taliban to study include the journalist Zahra Joya, named as one of Time magazine’s women of the year for 2022, and the educator and Washington Post columnist Shabana Basij-Rasikh.

They mostly went to primary school during Taliban rule, dressed as boys. Older female students are much harder to conceal, and Jawad is bracing for the day when the girls are discovered in class or their hiding place uncovered.

“Perhaps I can continue this risky job for a year or two but then I may get arrested, and when I do, what will happen to them?” he said. “The day they force me to really ban the girls, I will shut the school and leave the country.”

Even if authorities decide to turn a blind eye to some schools – and they have given at least one prestigious private chain tacit permission to keep some of its branches open outside the capital – a financial crunch looms.

Secret schools all need private funding, and while some comes from NGOs, most rely on fees. Afghanistan’s economy is collapsing, expected to shrink by about a third, and many families are struggling to find money for school even when it is a priority.

“The financial situation of the school is very bad since the Taliban. Students were paying 1,500 to 4,000 afghanis a month (£14 to £36), but most of those families left. We have new students now but they can’t afford more than 500 to 2,000 a month mostly,” said Gulbano*, s the financial manager of one Kabul school.

“We had to offer very low fees as no one has much money at home, and we are educating some orphans for free,” she added. The director of another school still offering girls’ high school classes said he was besieged by requests for cheaper fees, but was already operating at a loss.

One of the students leaves a secret girls’ school
A student leaves a secret girls’ school. Photograph: Nanna Muus Steffensen/The Guardian

Parental pressure

Jawad decided to restart classes after mothers and fathers begged him to help. “All the families were coming to ask about their girls. They said, ‘our boys are coming but what about our girls?’”

“Education is everything,” said one father, whose 10-year-old daughter, something of a prodigy, is newly enrolled in 7th grade there. He found the school by doggedly asking about classes every time he saw girls coming out of a building carrying books.

“Of course I have concerns for her and me, but I want my daughters to achieve their dreams, I don’t want them to just become ‘aunties’, sitting at home all day just asking their husbands for money.

At Mahdia’s semi-rural school, less than a quarter of the girls have mothers who were able to go to school, and under half have fathers who are literate.

“They have a lot of difficulties in life, so they always motivate us, saying ‘don’t be like us,’” said Mursal*, who is married and supported by her husband. “Before they give any medicine to my younger siblings, I have to read the label and the dose for them.”

The Taliban have tacitly acknowledged parental pressure for education, allowing schools to stay open in a handful of provinces, including northern Balkh, and southern Zabul.

Hopes that the government might reverse course nationally have been repeatedly crushed, first in March when girls were called back to school then ordered home again as soon as they reached their classrooms.

More recently, a national gathering of clerics was expected to endorse girls’ education, but ended with only a vague nod to women’s rights. Sources with links to the Taliban leadership say hardliners who oppose girls’ education have the upper hand for now, so Afghan girls have to keep studying in secret, and Afghan men and women have to keep breaking the law to help them do it.

“I’m not old, but I’ve got lines on my forehead. The way the girls look makes me very sad sometimes, like I want to cry.” said Jawad, who is fundraising for a therapist for the students. “I think to myself ‘why do I have to hide you from our government.’”

* All names and some identifying details have been changed to protect the girls and their schools.

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Ukraine’s Finance Minister Reports Problems Finding Cash to Pay Troops Despite West’s Aid Bonanza

Voice Of EU




MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“




Sputnik International


MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

Sputnik International


MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

ukraine, corruption, aid, salary



The US and its allies have approved over $76 billion in military and fiscal aid to Kiev, equivalent to 40% of Ukraine’s GDP in 2021. However, much of this assistance doesn’t seem to be reaching its intended destinations, with CBS issuing (and then deleting) a story last week showing that as little as 30% of the military aid was reaching the front.

Ukraine is having trouble scrapping together the money required to pay soldiers’ salaries and has resorted to money printing thanks to a growing gap between military spending and declining tax revenues, combined with a slowing flow of Western aid, Finance Minister Sergii Marchenko has indicated.

“Every day and night it’s a constant headache,” Marchenko told the Wall Street Journal in an interview.

The minister explained that the government is now spending more than 60 percent of the budget on military-related expenditure, and has received assurances from Western countries of new loans and grants to cover non-military spending.

“The support we get now gives us the opportunity to win this war and to do it sooner rather than later. Without this money, the war will last longer and it will damage economies more,” Marchenko said.

The minister indicated that the government is disregarding concerns from the National Bank about skyrocketing inflation, saying “it is better to risk high inflation than not to pay soldiers’ salaries.” He added that he expects the conflict to turn into a “marathon” lasting for the remaining of 2022 and 2023. “This is a war of attrition. You have to think in these terms,” Marchenko said.

Ukraine has received a total of more than $50 billion in military and non-military aid authorizations from the US alone, including everything from weapons and new defense contracts for the military-industrial complex to replenish old inventories, to fiscal support and loans to help the Ukrainian state stay afloat, pay its creditors on time and avoid paralysis, to humanitarian assistance.
A worker paints a Saint Javelin, a Virgin Mary holding an American-made anti-tank missile, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 24, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.08.2022

CBS Deletes Documentary Revealing That Just ‘30%’ of West’s ‘Aid’ to Ukraine Reached Frontlines
US assistance has been matched by nearly $16 billion in aid from the European Union, plus $6.22 billion, $3.34 billion, $2.85 billion, $2.61 billion and $2.11 billion from Britain, Germany, Poland, Canada and France, respectively, for a grand total of over $76 billion.
On Friday, Ukrainian presidential chief economic advisor Oleg Ustenko urged the International Monetary Fund to shell out $5 billion as part of a larger $15-20 billion aid package over the eighteen months to two years to encourage others, including the US, the EU and other countries to go ahead with additional support. Last month, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal told attendees of a Switzerland-based conference dedicated to Ukraine’s economic recovery that the country would need some $750 billion in assistance.
Corruption concerns and questions about the final destination of the tens of billions of dollars doled out to Ukraine aid periodically emerge in mainstream media reporting on the conflict. Last month, Ukrainian-born Republican Congresswoman Victoria Spartz accused Ukrainian presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak of sabotaging the country’s defenses, and of appointing officials engaged in corruption to fight graft. Ukrainian officials dismissed her concerns as “Russian propaganda.”
Fitch Ratings - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.08.2022

Fitch Ratings, S&P Global Ratings Consider Ukraine’s Debt Restructuring as Default
Last week, CBS News posted and then deleted a bombshell documentary which uncovered that as little as 30 percent of the military assistance Western countries had sent to Kiev in the first months of the conflict had actually reached the frontlines. The documentary was quickly taken down to be “updated” to account for new information from the Pentagon and other sources.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that the retraction was not enough and called for an “internal investigation” at CBS to determine “who enabled” the documentary’s release and why.

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Brazilian woman and fake seer con elderly mother out of $142 million | International

Voice Of EU



A woman was arrested on August 10 by Rio de Janeiro police who charged her with conning her mother out of millions. In a strange story of greed abetted by fake psychics, Sabine Boghici and her accomplices stole more than $142 million in money, jewelry and artwork from Boghici’s mother over a two-year period.

Geneviève Boghici, the widow of a major art collector and dealer named Jean Boghici, was walking out of a bank in January 2020 near the famous Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) when she was approached by a supposed psychic prophesying her daughter’s imminent death unless she underwent “spiritual therapy.” They walked together to Boghici’s apartment, where the psychic threw some shells in a mystical ritual that confirmed the tragic prophesy. The 82-year-old victim knew that her daughter suffered from psychological problems, and her affinity for the supernatural swayed her to transfer $980,000 to the swindlers.

Soon after the two-year con began, the elderly woman became suspicious and halted the money transfers when her daughter started to isolate her from friends. Sabine would not allow her mother to use the phone and dismissed all the domestic workers, justifying them as Covid-19 precautions. Yet Sabine and her cronies entered freely to loot her mother’s home of its valuables. Several psychics took items from the home, saying they were “cursed” and needed to be “prayed over.” The increasingly suspicious Geneviève tried to resist, but Sabine began threatening her life. According to the police, she wouldn’t allow her mother to eat and put a knife to her throat.

Police recover 'Sol Poente' by Brazilian painter, Tarsila do Amaral.
Police recover ‘Sol Poente’ by Brazilian painter, Tarsila do Amaral.Policia Civil de Rio de Janeiro (EFE)

The victim told the police that her daughter had some sort of relationship with one of the supposed psychics, Rosa Stanesco Nicolau, who practiced her trade in Rio de Janeiro as “Mãe Valéria de Oxossi” (Mother Valeria), and was a known con artist. Starting in September 2020, under constant threat from her daughter and accomplices, the elderly woman made another 38 bank transfers to the thieves.

Sabine and her cohorts stole 16 paintings and sculptures, and sold them all to art galleries or private buyers. Two of these works – Elevador Social (Social Elevator) by Rubens Gerchman, and Maquete para o menú espelho (A model for my mirror) by Antonio Dias – were bought by Eduardo Costantini, owner of the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (Argentina), for his private collection. The São Paulo (Brazil) gallery owner who brokered the deal said he was not suspicious because he had known the family for a long time and the seller was the daughter of the deceased art collector. Constantini released a statement saying that he bought the paintings in good faith and was in direct contact with Genevieve Boghici.

In 2012, a fire in the Boghici’s Copacabana apartment destroyed part of their valuable collection, including Di Cavalcanti’s Samba and Alberto Guignard’s A Floresta (The Forest). Sol Poniente (Setting Sun), painted by Tarsila do Amaral in 1929, is one of the most valuable works in the Boghici collection ($49 million). It survived the 2012 fire but not the rampant greed of their daughter. The stolen painting was found under a bed by police, who arrested Sabine and three other people, including the fake seer. In a final twist to the whole bizarre story, the scamming psychic was apprehended trying to escape through a window.

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