'Ghost employee’ pocketed £780,000 in wages despite skipping two full-time jobs unnoticed for 19 YEARS | The Sun

A GHOST employee has been busted after pocketing £780,000 worth of wages despite skipping two full-time jobs unnoticed for 19 years.

Marco Antonio Lopes, from Brazil, took up roles at two different companies 155 miles apart but remarkably slipped under the radar and repeatedly did not turn up for either job for almost two decades.

The phantom worker joined the Ministry of Health in 1984 and became an auxiliary nurse five years later in Santo Antonio de Padua.

That same year, he also started working as a legislative specialist at the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro State (ALERJ) in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

He was expected to work 40 hours a week in both positions, despite more than 155 miles separating his two workplaces.

Bizarrely, despite repeated absences in both jobs, Lopes was paid his full wages for both positions until 2016 – claiming almost £780,000 in wages in the process.

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His failure to turn up to work went unnoticed for years until the Ministry of Health opened a case against him in 2016, forcing him to resign.

And two years later, in 2018, ALERJ finally sacked him due to his repeated, unexplained absences.

Lopes has now been ordered to pay back 19 years worth of wages by a judge in Rio de Janeiro.

Judge Vigdor Teitel also suspended his political rights and banned him from working as a government contractor or receiving tax or credit incentives or benefits for ten years.

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The Federal Public Prosecutor's Office, which investigated Lopes' repeated absences in both jobs, described his actions as "an evident act of bad faith, causing illicit enrichment and damage to the treasury".

The investigation found that Lopes had pocketed BRL 1,654,855.50 (£259,000) from the Ministry of Health and BRL 3,329,290.98 (£521,000) from ALERJ between January 1989 and May 2016.

It is not clear why the judgement only covered the period from 1997 to 2016 and not the whole period, from 1989.

Meanwhile, in Spain, a civil servant failed to turn up to work for at least six years.

Joaquin Garcia was slapped with a £21,000 fine after he was caught when he became eligible for a long service award.

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