Money dealer ran corruption scheme that moved $ 1.6 billion in bribes

Dario Messer hid illegal payments to Rio's ex-governor

Published in 03/05/2018 - 21:00 By Felipe Pontes - Brasília

An operation launched today (May 3) by Brazil's Federal Police, code named “Câmbio, Desligo” (Over and Out), has as its main target black-market money dealer Dario Messer, described in plea-bargain testimonies as 'the dealer of dealers” and responsible for disguising millionaire bribe payments to Rio de Janeiro's ex-governor, Sérgio Cabral.

According to the investigation, conducted by Operation Car Wash task-force in Rio de Janeiro, the money dealer is resported to be the main responsible for an international bribery scheme known as “Bankdrop”, believed to have moved, since the 1980's, more than $ 1.6 billion, through 3 thousand offshore companies with accounts in 52 countries.

Judge Marcelo Bretas, responsible for the Car Wash proceedings in Rio, authorized the execution of 45 preventive detention orders. He also ruled the provisional detention of two persons. The arrest orders were executed in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná and Distrito Federal (Federal District).

The investigations are based on plea-bargain deals with black-market money dealers Vinícius Claret (known as 'Juca Bala') and Cláudio Fernando (known as 'Tony'), who worked under Messer's command and admitted to have moved illicit funds.

The criminal organization was also described by brothers Marcelo and Renato Chebar, other two money dealers closer to Rio's ex-governor who were denounced during Operação Eficiência (Operation Efficiency), launched in January 2017.

The Chebar brothers said, according to the Federal Prosecutor's Office, that they sought for Messer's services using 'Juca Bala' and 'Tony' as go-betweens after Cabral took office, which considerably increased the illicit money movements.

The money dealers engaged in the scheme are believed to be responsible for moving “a large part of the bribe diverted by the criminal organization based in Rio de Janeiro's state public offices”, wrote Judge Bretas when authorizing today's operation.

The operation had the cooperation of the Federal Revenue and also of authorities from Uruguay, to where a large part of the bribe was sent. Another four arrest orders were executed in the neighboring country.

Translation: Mariana Branco  -  Edition: Valéria Aguiar/Nira Foster

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