Billionaire Banker Named in Corruption Probe

Joseph Safra

Joseph Safra

Joseph Safra, one of the world’s richest banker, is the latest high profile individual named in Brazil’s far-reaching corruption probe.

Operation Zelotes, is a probe that is investigating crimes relating to Brazil’s Administrative Board of Tax Appeals, known as CARF, named Safra along with four CARF agents and a Safra Group former director for allegedly having knowledge of the bribe paid by affiliate company JS Administracao de Recursos. This was in exchange for a favorable appeal concerning R$1.8 billion (about $500 million) of fines owed to CARF by The Safra Group.

The Brazilian authorities said they had wire taps of conversations between a Safra executive, João Inácio Puga, and tax officials. Safra was not directly involved with the alleged corruption scheme, but the conversations showed that Puga reported to Safra on the bribery discussions according to prosecutors.

Asian Business

Safra, who together with his family owns Banco Safra and a number of private-banking institutions including Switzerland's J. Safra Sarasin, which has well established operations in Singapore and Hong Kong.

In a separate statement, Safra's investment holding company Safra Group said the allegations «are unfounded,» adding that «there have not been any improprieties by any of the businesses of The Safra Group.»

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