PF trawler arrests 24 lawyers and businessmen
By Fausto Macedo, The State of S. Paulo - 01/07/2005
The Federal Police launched Operation Monte Éden yesterday and arrested 24 lawyers and businessmen involved in an alleged property protection scheme, through money laundering, foreign exchange evasion, tax evasion and forgery using oranges and offshores - front offices - in Uruguay . The federal investigation indicates that 40 companies in the fuel, textile, plastic, computer and poultry sectors would have hidden a volume of R $ 150 million in assets from Revenue in 2004.
The action reached 7 states - São Paulo, Rio, Mato Grosso do Sul, Ceará, Pernambuco, Espírito Santo and Paraná - and was decreed by federal judge Ana Paula Rodrigues Mathias, from the 5th Federal Criminal Court of Rio. The judge issued 80 search warrants and 30 temporary arrest decrees. Five hundred PF agents and 50 IRS auditors were mobilized. The Uruguayan government cooperated by opening data on financial corporations registered in Montevideo.
Most of the arrests took place in São Paulo, where the Oliveira Neves law firm is appointed by the Public Prosecutor's Office as one of the main parties involved. The holder of the board, Newton José de Oliveira Neves, calls himself “one of the most respected lawyers in the country, with over 25 years of experience, working with national and multinational companies”.
He calls himself “a specialist in corporate, tax, corporate, international and foreign investment law”. Do not neglect that you work with “asset protection”. Another 4 offices are under investigation.
Oliveira Neves arrived handcuffed to the PF headquarters. He was arrested on his cover at Alameda Jaú, in Jardins. It would have earned R $ 20 million last year by protecting clients' assets. The PF trawler took four more lawyers from that office to the prison, on the corner of Alamedas Santos and Bela Cintra - Ana Claudia Mello, Antonio Teixeira Araújo Jr., Fernanda Duran de Souza and Cíntia Maceron. Trainee Hugo Nader de Lima was also captured.
The origin of the investigation is the businessman Antonio Carlos Chebabe, a client of Oliveira Neves. The PF monitored the lawyer and other suspects' phones for 6 months. There are about 30 hours of clamping. According to the PF, listening reveals Neves advising Chebabe on the best way to shield assets.
The regional superintendent of the PF in São Paulo, José Ivan Guimarães Lobato, called Monte Éden “successful”. The prosecutor of the Republic Patrícia Castro Nu? Es said that the arrests and searches are "a fantastic job". Guilherme Adolfo dos Santos Mendes, Deputy Superintendent of Revenue, informed that the businessmen will be assessed.
The shielding of assets was made based on a contract - in the amount of R $ 100 thousand - signed between the businessman interested in hiding his assets from the tax authorities with lawyers. The next step was the creation of an offshore, or financial corporation (priced at US $ 3,5), in some tax haven, usually Uruguay. The offshore became the majority of a shell company in Brazil, which included some orange. The businessman "sold" fictitious goods and equipment to the ghost company. Then, he rented this material declaring non-existent expenses. The guarantee that he remained the owner of the assets was bearer shares held in Montevideo.
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