Safra Group accused of Bribing Government Agency in Brazil
The banker Joseph Safra and his group are acussed of paying more than four million dollars to get rid of fines, according to the prosecution.
The second richest man in Brazil, Joseph Safra, from the private Safra Group, has been accused of corruption for the alleged payment of bribes to avoid government imposed fines.
Investigators believe that the banker, who is worth an estimated $18 billion, according to Forbes magazine, paid a bribe of 15 million reais in exchange for favorable decisions in the Administrative Resources Board (CARF). The entity is a kind of tribunal that assesses fines on financial resources.
In addition to Safra, the prosecution accused the former director of the group João Inácio Puga, along with two employees and two former employees who allegedly acted as intermediaries.
According to the complaint, the company paid for employees to intervene in three accusations against one of the group companies, JS Administração Resources. The fines had a total value of 1,49 billion reais.
The prosecution accuses those involved in crimes of active, passive corruption and falsifying documents. The complaint is framed in the context of Operation Zealot, which investigates fraud in investigations being conducted at CARF.
Prosecutors explained that Joseph Safra did not deal directly with bribing public officials or intermediaries. However they stressed that it has become clear that in at least three of the tapped conversations, the former director, Puga, reported his steps to Safra.
The prosecution has stated that “a mere director could not make decisions that involved debts corresponding to 41.26% of the share capital of the group.”
Safra is the fifth largest private bank in Brazil, which reinforces the idea that people in lower levels could not have been working alone. The information obtained from the tapped phone calls are just part of the proof that authorities have against the bank and Safra himself.
In a statement, the Safra Group said that the suspicions raised by the prosecution are unfounded.
“No representative of JS Administração Resources offered bribes to public officials. JS did not receive any benefit from CARF. Therefore, there is no reason for the process,” the statement said.