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Operations Akin to Car Wash on The Horizon as Police Target Black Market Currency Exchangers

05/04/2018 - 11h57

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ITALO NOGUEIRA
FROM RIO DE JANEIRO
ANA LUIZA ALBUQUERQUE
FROM CURITIBA

The ramifications of Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato) have led to the investigation of 53 black market currency exchangers, financial operators and cash suppliers and may give rise to fresh leads concerning corruption and money laundering probes.

Some of the arrest warrants issued by Judge Marcelo Bretas targeted defendants who had already been mentioned in cases such as Banestado, Operation Satiagraha and Farol da Colina. Others were moneymen who, up until recently, were little-known to investigators.

"This is the biggest operation since Banestado, and if we remember that Lava Jato began with a black market currency exchanger, then think about the potential that this operation has: the potential is explosive," said prosecutor Eduardo El Hage.

The operation is based on the plea bargain testimonies of Vinicius Claret and Cláudio Barbosa, who are considered the biggest black market currency exchangers in the country. In their testimonies, they provided details about the inner workings of a scheme that brought together currency exchangers from all over the country and moved approximately US$ 1.6 billion between 2008 and 2017 through 3,000 offshore accounts in 52 different countries.

Their main target was Dario Messer, the son of money exchanger Mardko Messer, who was a mentor of sorts to Mr. Claret and Mr. Barbosa in the 1980s. The two of them said that he provided them with financial stability and helped them establish credibility so they could conduct operations on the financial market.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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