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Santander Bank Director Is Accused of Buying Decisions from the Federal Revenue Service

11/14/2017 - 10h12

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FÁBIO FABRINI
FROM BRASÍLIA

On Monday (the 13th), the Federal Prosecutor's Office (MPF) in Brasília charged Reginaldo Antônio Ribeiro, the Tax Planning Director for Santander Bank and three other individuals with involvement in an alleged corruption scheme that netted the bank R$ 83 million (US$ 25.3 million) in tax credits.

The case has been under investigation as part of the 'Zelotes' Operation. According to the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by Folha, the bank simulated the contracting of a consultancy office whose real purpose was to buy favorable decisions from the Special Station for Federal Receipts from Financial Institutions in São Paulo (Deinf-SP).

Mark Lennihan/AP Photo
The Santander Bank
The Santander Bank

The Zelotes Operation revealed that auditor Eduardo Cerqueira Leite, assigned to the unit, had received bribes from the consulting company in exchange for favorable decisions for Santander in administrative fiscal proceedings of interest to it, including those dealing with restitutions or tax compensations. The public servant is accused of heading up a unit engaging in criminal activities to benefit financial institutions, among them Bradesco, Safra and Santander itself. The institutions deny any irregularities.

Cerqueira Leite is charged with paying bribes, money laundering and racketeering. The Director of Santander, Reginaldo Antônio Ribeiro, is also charged with paying bribes, in addition to money laundering and racketeering. The Federal Prosecutor's Office is seeking that those involved be sentenced to reimburse the treasury R$ 5 million (US$ 1.52 million), adjusted for inflation, and to be fined another R$ 8 million (US$ 2.44 million) in collective punitive damages.

Cerqueira Leite's lawyer, Renato Vieira, says that his client "denies all the charges, and has always been and continues to be at the disposal of the organs of criminal prosecution to cooperate".

Santander, in a written communication, declared that it hadn't been served notice of the charges. Regarding the contracting of Lupe Consulting, it alleges that the contract was formalized in 2013 "in accordance with rigid compliance criteria, which proved the non-existence, at the time, an any fact that could compromise the company or its owners". The bank stated that any honorariums paid were in line with average rates for the market for services of that nature and that the contract prohibited the sub-contracting of third-parties in or for any activities.

Folha was unable to contact representatives from Lupe Consulting.

Translated by LLOYD HARDER

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