Jan 29, 2013 7:39 PM GMT
Artur Baptista da Silva had become one of the most authoritative voices on Portuguese television, using his experience as an economist and United Nations consultant to explain why so much austerity was bad for the bailed-out country's economy.
But now it turns out that the 61-year-old economist who explained so seriously – and clearly – the damage being inflicted on the country by the austerity measures demanded by the troika of lenders (EU, IMF and ECB) was a conman with at least two jail terms behind him.
The fake economist earnestly debated with journalists and other experts on television shows, claiming that the European Union has become a farce.
Baptista da Silva became so popular that he was invited to talk to the socialist party's summer school and some of the country's most prestigious debating societies. He claimed to have been a professor at a now defunct US university and to have worked with the World Bank.
“He said what people wanted to hear,” explained Antonio Costa, editor of the Diario Economico newspaper. That may explain why fans have now launched Facebook groups supporting him, including one called "I worked at the United Nations with Baptista da Silva."