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Inhotim Institute Founder Bernardo Paz Found Guilty of Money Laundering

11/17/2017 - 12h56

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AMANDA NOGUEIRA
FROM SÃO PAULO

Businessman Bernardo de Mello Paz, who conceived the Inhotim museum in the 1980s, was sentenced to nine years and three months in jail for moving money between companies where he was a partner in order to launder money.

The ruling of federal judge Camila Franco e Silva Velano was made back in September, but it was only disclosed on Wednesday (the 16th) by the Public Prosecutor's Office. The businessman's sister, Maria Virgínia de Mello Paz, was also found guilty of participating in the same crime - she was sentenced to house arrest for 5 years and three months.

According to the Prosecutor's Office, the businessman and his sister laundered financial assets that belonged to their companies, hiding the origin and nature of the revenues they obtained through pension fraud from 2007 to 2008, a period in which Mr. Mello Paz was the owner of conglomerate Itaminas, made up of 29 companies, most of which belong to the mining and steel industries.

Among the companies whose transactions caught the attention of the Council for Financial Activities Control (Coaf) was Horizontes Ltda, which was devised in order to manage the the donations made by other companies to the Inhotim Institute. According to the Prosecutor's Office, Horizontes Ltda took US$ 95 million in donations made to the institute and moved it to other companies belonging to Bernardo Paz.

Nelson Almeida - 11.ago.2015/AFP
Inhotim Centre, some 60 km from Belo Horizonte, southeastern Brazil, considered the world largest center for contemporary open air art with over 20 galleries housing the work of 85 artists of 26 different nationalities, the Inhotim Institute also has one of the greatest botanical collections in the country. AFP PHOTO / Nelson ALMEIDA ORG XMIT: SAO038
Inhotim Centre, some 60 km from Belo Horizonte, southeastern Brazil, considered the world largest center for contemporary open air art with over 20 galleries housing the work of 85 artists of 26 different nationalities, the Inhotim Institute also has one of the greatest botanical collections in the country. AFP PHOTO / Nelson ALMEIDA ORG XMIT: SAO038

Known for its contemporary art, Inhotim is one of the biggest outdoor museums in Latin America. It was built on a farm belonging to Mr. Paz, in Brumadinho, near the city of Belo Horizonte. The museum is fully operational.

Marcelo Leonardo, the attorney of Mr. Paz and his sister Maria Virgínia, said that the conviction of his clients for money laundering was unjust and that he had already appealed the decision. Mr. Leonardo said that the facts that were brought up by the Prosecutor's Office had nothing to do with the Inhotim Institute.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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