Boi o Boi: Billion-Dollar Beancounter Bust in the Cidade Maravilha


White-collar perp walks: “The people like it that way.” The Caros Amigos cover story seems more and more like an astute piece of political analysis.

The Polícia Federal clips this item: state tax inspectors and accountants arrested in Rio for stealing a billion bucks in a single year, reports the Folha de S. Paulo today.

The President said today that critics of prolonging a check tax that provides key federal revenue — this is the big political story for weeks now — dislike it “because it is the one tax they cannot cheat on.”

At the heart of the case: A certain Chico Olho-de-Boi. The state assembly commission of inquiry that looked into these matters first accused him of being mixed up in the marching powder business as well.

A prosecutor told O Globo he sold a home to the Colombian drug lord Ramirez Abadia, for example. He lives in a R$4 million home in the Barra da Tijuca, G1 reports.

When cases like this hit, it is customary to linger pornographically on the fabulous homes, cars, and boats of the crooks.

The Cisco case, recall — though played here as a story about an evil foreign multinational — actually had more to do with Brazilian employees paying off Brazilian officials to avoid taxes.

Uma quadrilha de sonegação e corrupção fiscal formada por fiscais da Secretaria da Fazenda, empresários e contadores desviou cerca de R$ 1 bilhão do Estado do Rio em um ano, de acordo com o Ministério Público. Até a conclusão desta edição, 25 pessoas haviam sido presas -funcionários públicos, empresários e contadores.

An organization dedicated to tax evasion and corruption, comprising federal treasury inspectors, business owners and accountants, deprived the State of Rio de Janeiro of nearly R$1 billion in a single year, according to prosecutors. By the close of this edition, 25 persons had been arrested — public employees, business owners, and accountants.

Com salários entre R$10 mil e R$ 12 mil, os fiscais denunciados pelo MP moravam em bairros nobres do Rio, como Gávea, Ipanema, Urca (zona sul) e Itanhangá (zona oeste). “São fiscais antigos, em fim de carreira”, disse o procurador-geral de Justiça do Rio, Marfan Vieira. A operação Propina S.A., deflagrada ontem pelo Ministério Público do Rio, teve como base 2.053 horas de escutas de 107.258 ligações de 70 telefones grampeados. A Justiça decretou 31 mandados de prisão provisória -11 de fiscais da Receita Estadual- e 106 de busca e apreensão. Outros dez fiscais foram afastados do cargo.

Earning between R$10,000 and R$12,000 a month, the treasury inspectors indicted by the MP lived in upscale neighborhoods like Gávea, Ipanema, Urca and Itanhangá. “These are senior inspectors, at the end of their career,” said Rio’s state attorney, Marfan Vieira. Operation Bribe, Incorporate, carried out today by the state public ministry, was based on 2,053 hours of wiretap recordings of 107,258 phone calls on 70 telephones. The court issued 31 arrest warrants — 11 for state revenue inspectors — and 106 search warrants. Another 10 tax inspectors were suspended from their posts.

That is not a bad salary here, really.

O caso lembra o Propinoduto, esquema montado por fiscais do Estado e da Receita Federal e empresários para cobrar propinas, mas o valor das fraudes desta vez é 16 vezes superior. Apesar de condenados em primeira e segunda instâncias, nenhum dos envolvidos no Propinoduto está preso. Além das 25 pessoas que haviam sido detidas, blocos de notas fiscais, computadores e bens foram apreendidos. Segundo o MP, os presos serão denunciados à 33ª Vara Criminal do Rio sob acusação de sonegação fiscal, corrupção ativa e passiva, formação de quadrilha e lavagem de dinheiro.

The case recalls the Propinoduto [“pipeline of bribery”] scheme set up by state and federal tax agents and business owners to charge briges, but the amount of fraud in this case is 16 times higher. Though found guilty, a verdict that was upheld on its first appeal, none of the figures in the Propinaduto case have ever been in jail. Besides the 25 persons arrested, financial forms, computers and other assets were seized. According to the MP, the persons arrested were indicted before the 33rd Criminal Bar of Rio for tax evasion, active and passive corruption, criminal conspiracy and money laundering.

As investigações do MP apontam que os fiscais denunciados comandavam esquema de sonegação fiscal baseado no recebimento de propinas por empresas que vão desde salões de beleza e lojas de sapatos a indústrias farmacêuticas, passando por escritórios de contabilidade, postos de gasolina, lojas de material hospitalar e elétrico e locadoras de veículos.

Investigations indicate the tax auditors charged ran a tax evasion scheme, based on receiving bribes from businesses that ranged from beauty salons and shoestores to pharma manufacturers, as well as accounting firms, gas stations, medical supply stores, and car rental agencies.

Com as propinas, os fiscais abrandavam as fiscalizações, deixando de lavrar autos de infração, aplicando multas em valores menores e resolvendo pendências das empresas com a Fazenda, de acordo com as investigações. Prestavam, ainda, espécie de consultoria, ensinando empresários a fazer caixa dois e sonegar impostos.

Bribed, the inspectors softened inspections, omitted writing up infractions, reduced fines, and resolved issues companies had with the tax authority. They also provided a kind of consulting service, teaching business owners how to funnel money off the books [into “slush funds”] and avoid paying taxes.

Uma das empresas acusadas de envolvimento no esquema, é a International Boats, que pertence ao filho do fiscal Francisco Ribeiro da Cunha Gomes, conhecido como Chico Olho-de-Boi e apontado como o principal envolvido do esquema. Chico foi preso na madrugada de ontem no aeroporto Tom Jobim, no Rio, quando ia embarcar para Manaus, com R$ 20 mil em dinheiro. A International Boats tem uma filial na capital.

One of the firms accused of involvement in the scheme is International Boats, which belongs to the son of Chico Olho-de-Boi, who is charged with being the principal figure in the scheme. Chico was arrested overnight at the Tom Jobim Airport in Rio as he prepared to embark for Manaus, with R$20,000 in cash. International Boats has a branch in the Amazonian capital city.

A sede da empresa em São Paulo foi fechada pelo MP local, a pedido da operação do MP do Rio. Segundo o promotor paulista Arthur Lemos, há suspeitas de que a International Boats fosse usada pelo esquema para lavagem de dinheiro. Chico Olho-de-Boi chegou a substituir, por três dias, Rodrigo Silveirinha -o principal acusado do caso Propinoduto- na coordenação de uma inspetoria na Secretaria Estadual de Fazenda do Rio, depois que ele foi preso.

The company’s offices in São Paulo were closed by the local prosecutor at the request of their Rio colleagues. According to the São Paulo prosecutor Arthur Lemos, there is suspicion that International Boats was used for money-laundering. Chico Olho-de-Boi even once sat in, for three days, for Rodrigo Silveirinha — the principal figure in the Propinoduto — as coordinator of inspectors for the state Treasury of Rio, after Silveirinha was arrested.

A Polícia Federal apreendeu parte da documentação que comprovaria que a International Boats intermediou a venda de casa em Angra do Reis para o traficante colombiano Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía em 7 de agosto.

The Federal Police seized part of the documentation said to prove that International Boats brokered the sale of the house in Angra dos Reis to the Colombian drug lord Ramírez Abadía on August 7.

The guy’s sidekick in São Paulo was in the jet-ski business, I think. Abadía, I mean.

Vieira disse que o rombo do esquema nos cofres públicos soma cerca de R$ 1 bilhão. “É a maior operação do gênero no país. É a ponta do iceberg.” A Folha não conseguiu localizar os advogados dos acusados.

Vieira said the loss to the public treasury is some R$1 billion. “This is the biggest bust of its kind in the history of Brazil. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.” The Folha could not manage to locate defense counsel for the accused.

I had a conversation with a guy in a boteco a while back who ranted wildly about this sort of thing: “The dicatorship of the tax man is coming, just you wait and see!”

And actually started giving advice on how to live in one city, register your business in another, and actually work in a third. Or something like that.

He also advised against treating your nigger employees like human beings — “those people will just take advantage” —  and complained that the infrastructure in our neighborhood is for shit because of “that thieving Lula!”

Seriously. One of those bar conversations where you stare at your beer and think “Who brought this guy to the party?”

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