Brazilian clergymen arrested after allegedly stealing €490,000 from church goers

The group is accused of buying a cattle ranch and a lottery ticket shop with the money

Brazilian clergymen arrested after allegedly stealing €490,000 from church goers

File photo: Bishops take part in a service in Aparecidain, southeastern Brazil, 18-04-2012. Image: ANDRE LESSA/DPA/PA Images

A Brazilian bishop is among a group of clergymen arrested after allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of Euro from churchgoers.

Police have raided the home of Jose Ronaldo Ribeiro, the bishop of Formosa, who is accused of working with other Catholic clergymen to divert over €490,000 from the church coffers.

Prosecutors said the money was stolen from collection boxes, tithes, donations and wedding and baptism fees at churches in three cities near Brazil's capital - Formosa, Posse and Planaltina.

Footage released shows officers retrieving a bag of cash from behind what appears to be a shelf.

The group is alleged to have bought a cattle ranch and a lottery ticket shop with the money.

A spokeswoman for the Goias state prosecutor's office said other clergymen were arrested in Formosa but would not confirm their names.

Globo TV reported that along with Ribeiro, authorities arrested four priests and a vicar general in connection with the case.

Ribeiro was appointed to the diocese of Formosa, in the centre-west state of Goias, by Pope Francis in 2014.

The investigation began in 2015 after parishioners complained.

However, in an interview with local media two years ago, the bishop had denied any wrong-doing.