1358712 (original text)
|Subject||BRAZIL/ECON - bank faces allegations over Brazil|
|Date||Aug 29, 2009 18:04|
|Released||Aug 2, 2012 04:00|
US bank faces allegations over Brazil
By Jonathan Wheatley in Sao Paulo
Published: August 28 2009 21:06 | Last updated: August 29 2009 00:03
The US Department of Justice has alleged that an employee of Brown
Brothers Harriman, a US private bank, helped Brazilian clients avoid
measures to detect money laundering and conceal the proceeds of crimes
including fraud and tax evasion.
The DoJ made the allegation in an application to freeze about $450m in an
account held at BBH in New York in the name of Tiger Eye Investments
Limited, a company registered in the Cayman Islands.
The account was frozen on a request from the Brazilian government last
The DoJ made its latest accusation in preparation for an Appeal Court
hearing in October that will decide whether to maintain the freeze.
Kenneth Counts, an investigator hired by the DoJ, said in an affidavit
there was probable cause to believe Tiger Eye was owned by Daniel and
Veronica Dantas, Brazilian brother and sister and business partners. Mr
Dantas is founder and head of Opportunity, a Rio de Janeiro investment
firm that formerly managed Citigroup's private equity interests in Brazil.
The DoJ alleges the Tiger Eye account received redemptions from the
Opportunity Fund, an off-shore fund managed by Opportunity and restricted
under Brazilian law to foreign investors.
BBH said: "We have acted appropriately in regard to this client. There are
no charges against BBH or any of its employees and no indication that BBH
or its employees are under investigation by the DoJ.
"We are co-operating fully with the DoJ in its efforts to assist the
Opportunity said the restrain order was based on "erroneous premises". It
added: "Opportunity has never been involved in money laundering.
Therefore, BBH has never helped Opportunity to launder money."
Mr Counts's allegations against BBH concern instructions from Ms Dantas to
transfer about $90m from accounts held at UBS Wealth Management in London
and Banque Safra in Luxembourg into the Tiger Eye account in New York last
Drawing on telephone conversations recorded by Brazilian police, his
affidavit states: "The BBH employee appears to tell Ms Dantas he can
assist her to avoid providing further information to the anti-money
laundering compliance components of two financial institutions."
BBH said notwithstanding the transcript that it had provided anti-money
Last year, a Brazilian police investigation alleged the Opportunity Fund
had been used illegally by Brazilian individuals and companies, avoiding
tax on profits from those investments (which are tax free for foreign
nationals) and concealing their ownership of large sums of money.
Mr Dantas was temporarily detained twice last year for alleged crimes
including fraud and money laundering. On both occasions he was released by
Brazil's Supreme Court. He was found guilty in December of attempting to
bribe a police investigator and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The sentence is suspended pending an appeal.
Opportunity said: "Daniel Dantas has never ordered, agreed with, suggested
or participated in any offer of bribery to public agents."
A further $168m was frozen in Brazil and about $46m in Britain, the DoJ
said. To support its case at the appeals court the DoJ has presented
documents prepared by Brazilian police which contain a list of more than
70 individuals and companies which Brazilian authorities say invested in
the Opportunity Fund. Among the list are dozens of individuals including
one minor and several Brazilian companies and investment funds, including
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