Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Brazil seeks bank executives in money laundering probe

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Brazilian authorities issued arrest warrants Wednesday for three executives of the Banco Paulista as part of a sweeping investigation into money laundering linked to the construction conglomerate Odebrecht.

Federal prosecutors said the three are suspected of involvement in the laundering of more than 48 million reals (about $12.2 million) between 2009 and 2015. The bank is accused of having hired front companies that issued fictitious contracts to justify non-existent services.

In a statement, Banco Paulista said it was cooperating with authorities.

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Authorities also issued 41 search and seizure warrants in Sao Paul, Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre, targeting companies they say received more than 280 million reals ($71 million) from the bank.

More: Former executive of Colombia’s Grupo Aval convicted in Odebrecht bribery scandal

Prosecutor Julio Noronha said the operation was the beginning of a process to “hold accountable agents in the financial and banking sectors who have allowed millions of reals to be laundered and paid as bribes.”

It was not immediately clear if any of the three arrests had been made.

The operation is part of the so-called “Car Wash” investigation. The probe, launched in 2014, revealed how construction companies received bloated contracts and then kicked back billions of dollars in bribes to politicians and other government officials.

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