According to the Brazilian news agency Agência Brasil, the Rio de Janeiro authorities have recently discovered a money laundering system in which state officials were distorting budget devoted to food for prisons run by the state. Bitcoin would have been used to exchange part of the product of the program, which amounted to about 22.4 million dollars.

After the discovery of the plan, search warrants were issued at 28 different sites, seven people having been arrested so far. Among those arrested are the former Secretary of State for Penitentiary Administration of Rio de Janeiro, Coronel Cesar Rubens Monteiro, and Delegate Marcelo Martins, Director of the Specialized Police Department of the Civilian Police. .

Luíz Henrique Casemiro, superintendent of the Internal Revenue Service in Rio, revealed that it was the first time that cryptocurrencies were used in such an operation. He stated (roughly translated):

“We have attracted attention, within the federal tax department, on this specific operation, because for the first time there are transactions involving bitcoin, which is a novelty, it shows that people are trying to improve one way or another, maybe flying below the central bank and the radar of the IRS. “

At least one state official claimed that the project was led by Sérgio Cabral, a former governor of Rio de Janeiro who was sentenced to 14 years in prison last year for money laundering. Money and corruption.

The Money Laundering Plan

The money laundering program was launched since 2001, after a contractor-run company Filipe Paiva, Induspan, was hired to provide snacks to prisons run by the company. 39; State. An initial contract with the company came to an end after being analyzed in 2010, while Induspan was billing above market prices despite the employment of prisoners at very low rates.

After Induspan ceased supplying the prisons, Paiva created a non-profit organization called the Primus Initiative. Primus began providing snacks to Rio de Janeiro jails using Induspan’s tariffs.

According to a prosecutor of state anti-corruption action group, Silvio Ferreira de Carvalho Neto, the price of bread has increased every time the contract was renewed, and in 13 years has risen by almost 1,000%. In addition, the number of snacks provided is assumed to increase from 55,600 to 83,600 per day, although the number of prisoners to be fed remains the same.

The plan, according to Carvalho Neto, allowed Primus to obtain a total of $ 22.4 million between 2010 and 2015. At least $ 13.7 million would have been laundered by fake tourism companies and currency exchange. The official stated:

“They were set up or, especially, reactivated to receive the money.In this period, none of them had employees, bank In fact, the fact of receiving amounts shortly after the withdrawal of money and the transfer to exchange offices is a very clear signal that the call was paid for no consideration . “

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