By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The Federal Police in Brazil issued 147 warrants and ordered the seizure of assets of persons accused of mismanagement of funds in four of the country’s largest pension funds: Funcef (Caixa Economica), Petros (Petrobras), Previ (Banco do Brasil) and Postalis (Brazilian Postal Service). The losses to these funds are said to be over R$8 billion.
The operation dubbed Greenfield was started Monday morning and police have already seized R$350,000, US$100,000 and €$50,000, as well as works of art, jewelry and luxury vehicles.
In all, 560 federal police officers were at hand in the states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Espirito Santo, Rio Grande do Sul, Parana, Santa Catarina and Amazonas, and Brasilia to question at least 103 persons for what investigators believe are losses of billions of reais due to fraud and mismanagement of funds.
According to police the investigation is focusing on companies that received resources from these funds. These private companies include JBS, the world’s largest meat producing company. The company’s chief executive, Wesley Batista was taken to police headquarters in São Paulo to answer questions.
Spokespersons for the four pension funds stated on Monday they would be cooperating with investigators.
During the afternoon the pension fund for Banco do Brasil employees issued the following statement: “PREVI has a model of mature and transparent governance, a qualified staff and all investment decisions are guided by well-defined policies and guidelines, which always seek adequate return on capital over the long term.”
Pension fund for Petrobras employees, Petros, also issued a statement, stating that it was committed to ‘good governance practices and accountability in the management of resources’.
According to Postalis, the current investigation is related to questionable investments carried out in 2009 but that ‘Postalis (had) already taken important steps, including judicial, for the recovery of assets’.