São Paulo: The Risco Cisco and The Smurfs of Alphaville

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The assault by the federal police on such practices comes at a significant moment. As the real rises against the dollar, import volume has never been higher. Data from the Brazilian electronics industry association (ABINEE) show that in August, electronics imports beat all historical records.

Seven and a half miles from the heart of São Paulo there is a gated community which houses 30,000 of the city’s richest and most security conscious residents, many of whom travel by helicopter to work among the 17 million other inhabitants of the world’s third largest city. According to the Washington Post, ‘at night, on “TV Alphaville”, residents can view their maids going home for the evening, when all exiting employees are patted down and searched in front of a live video feed.’ In his account of ‘a walled city where the privileged live behind electrified fences patrolled by a private army of 1,100’, the Post’s correspondent failed to discover which keen ironist had named the development after the film by Jean-Luc Godard. — Chris Darke, Vertigo magazine

Convergência Digital reports that more technology vendors are under investigation for using money-laundering schemes to avoid Brazilian taxes.

I am telling you, if you fixate on Cisco, you are going to miss the forest for the trees here. But the people who are encouraging you to make that mistake are not especially bright.

In the Cisco case, I really think the core of the investigation that nobody looked at was the alleged bribery of federal tax and customers inspectors.

In this case, the focus is doleiros. On whom see also

And once you start talking about going after doleiros, you then start seeing how such cases just might eventually meet up with the PF’s other major preoccupation recently — the (judge-owning, private army-funding, peasant-massacring, election-rigging, newspaper editor-assassinating) bicheiros.

The scheme operated out of Alphaville — a wealthy, utopian gated community that was, yes, named, oddly, after an antifascist dystopian futuristic nightmare by Godard, about a planned community tyrannized by a computer called Alpha-60 — in the Barueri district.

Jokes are starting to circulate about how everyone who lives in the crime-free utopia is turning out be the worst sort of criminal themselves.

The Colombian drug lord Abadia lived in a nearby pseudopod of the development.

A Operação Persona não é a única feita pela Polícia Federal para descobrir esquemas fraudulentos nas importações por empresas. Uma outra ação, batizada de X-9, realizada em SP e MG, nesta quinta-feira, 25/10, pegou doleiros que mantinham contas no Brasil e no exterior para fazer transações de compensação.

Operation Persona is not the only action the feds are taking to uncover fraudulent import schemes run by businesses. Another, dubbed Operation X-9, conducted in São Paulo and Minas Gerais on October 25, caught black-market currency brokers who maintained accounts in Brazil and abroad for making illegal transactions.

Na prática, a operação X-9 prendeu doleiros e num único dia, de acordo com a PF, uma empresa, instalada em Barueri, em são Paulo, movimentou mais de US$$ 100 mil e vinte e dois mil euros. Pessoas físicas e jurídicas se utilizavam do esquema, voltado para a sonegação de impostos. Empresas de eletroeletrônicos foram pegas como usuárias dos serviços dos doleiros presos, mas os nomes tampouco o porte delas não foram revelados, com o intuito de facilitar a continuidade das investigações.

In practice, X-9 was after black-market currency dealers and found that a Barueri company moved more than $100,000 and €2,000 in a single day. Both private parties and firms used the scheme, which was designed to facilitate tax avoidance. Electronics firms were identified as customers of the doleiros arrested, but neither their names nor their size have been revealed, in order to facilitate continuing investigations.

De acordo com a PF, as empresas declaravam valores até 80% menores do que o real ao fisco. Muitas vezes, os produtos eram contrabandeados sem qualquer pagamento de tributo. A PF sabe que pegar tão somente os doleiros não resolve a questão. Como no tráfico de drogas, os doleiros são substituídos imediatamente por outros. O grande ponto é chegar aos beneficiados pelo esquema de sonegação fiscal.

According to feds, the companies declared values up to 80% less than the real value to the tax authority. Often, the products were smuggled in without payment of customs duties. The feds know that just arresting the doleiros is not going to solve the problem. As happens in the drug trade, the doleiros are simply replaced forthwith with somebody else. The main point of the exercise is to reach the beneficiaries of the evasion scheme.

I read the cop press release on this. They described a typical smurfing scheme: breaking up transactions into chunks smaller than the $10,000 limit that theoretically throws a flag on some beancounter’s computer.

It actually sounds like it functions sort of like a hawala scheme …

A Operação X-9 ressalta apenas a realidade do setor eletroeletrônico, que ganhou estrelato com a Operação Persona, que identificou numa grande empresa, a Cisco Systems, um esquema fraudulento de sonegação fiscal, estimado pela Receita em R$ 1,5 bi. Mas, a verdade que a importação de equipamentos sempre envolveu “esquemas” no mercado. As razões são várias: Desde a própria desonestidade de quem se propõe a participar do esquema até a alta carga tributária brasileira, que facilita a atração pelo ato ilícito.

The operation only sheds further light on the reality of the tech hardware sector, which gained public notoriety with the Persona case involving Cisco … The fact is, however, is that equipment importing has always involved such “schemes.” There are various reasons for this, ranging from simple dishonesty to the high tax burden in Brazil, which makes illicit acts more attractive.

“For our friends, anything; for our enemies, the law.”

O cerco da Polícia Federal acontece num momento significativo. Com a valorização do Real frente ao Dólar, nunca se importou tanto como agora. Dados da Associação Brasileira da Indústria Elétrica Eletrônica (Abinee) revelaram que, em agosto, a importação de produtos eletroeletrônicos bateu todos os recordes da história do setor.

The assault by the federal police on such practices comes at a significant moment. As the real rises against the dollar, there has never been so much importing as now. Data from the Brazilian electronics industry association (ABINEE) show that in August, electronics imports beat all historical records.

Já há, pelo menos nos bastidores, uma preocupação de companhias de TI e Telecom, que o aumento da fiscalização possa vir a retardar a entrega dos produtos importados e criar problemas na logística de entrega de produtos ao varejo. Oficialmente, no entanto, todos afirmam que, até o momento, não há qualquer problema registrado. Asseguram que os procedimentos de desembaraço de componentes e equipamentos na Alfândega permanecem como sempre foram, sem qualquer alteração em função das investigações da Polícia Federal.

Behind closed doors, at least, IT and telecoms companies are worried that the escalation of ovesight might delay delivery of imported goods and create logistical headaches in delivers to retail outlets. Offically, however, all say that up to now they have had no problems. They say the procedures for releasing components and equipment from Customs are the same as ever, without any alteration because of the federal police investigations.

O certo é que a Polícia Federal, com o apoio da Justiça, decidiu apertar o cerco aos esquemas fraudulentos. Na Operação Persona, por exemplo, a prisão temporária dos executivos ainda presos – seis no total, entre eles, os sócios diretores da Mude e o ex-presidente da Cisco na América Latina e fundador da Cisco no Brasil, Carlos Carnevalli – foi transformada em prisão preventiva. Isso significa que os empresários permanecerão presos durante todo o período de investigação. Também é esperado que a Polícia Federal denuncie parte dos 40 empresários presos inicialmente, e não apenas os seis que permanecem presos, por formação de quadrilha e contrabando.

One thing for certain is that the feds with the support of the courts, has decided to put the squeeze on fraudulent schemes. In Persona, for example, the temporary detention of executives who were arrested — six in all, among them the managing partners of MUDE and former top Cisco exec Carlos Carnevali — were extended to preventive custody. This means they will remain in custody until the investigations are concluded. The feds are also expected to charge some of the 40 executives initially arrested, not just the six who remain in jail, with criminal conspiracy and smuggling.

Segundo reportagem publicada nesta sexta-feira, 26/10, no jornal O Estado de São Paulo, a Polícia Federal detectou que os “laranjas” do esquema de empresas envolvidas no caso Cisco foram utilizados por empresas que não apenas de Informática e Telecomunicações. Em nome dos suspeitos, de acordo com a matéria, estão registradas empresas de factoring, equipamentos, alimentos, peças e acessórios de automóveis e produtos agrícolas.

According to a report by the Estado de S. Paulo on October 26, the feds discovered that the “fronts” used by the companies in the Cisco case were used by other companies, and not just companies from the tech and telecom sectors. According to the article, companies in the areas of factoring, equipment, food, auto parts and accessories, and agricultural products were found registered in the names of the suspects.

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