SAO PAULO, July 27 (Reuters) – A Brazilian judge on Monday approved a bankruptcy restructuring plan for Odebrecht, a hit construction conglomerate that was the main equipment of a widespread corruption investigation known as “Car Wash Operation.”
The judge, in a decision seen by Reuters, approved the plan and rejected objections from creditors, including the state bank of BNDES, Itaú Unibanco, Banco Bradesco, Santander Brasil and Banco do Brasil.
Creditors in April approved a restructuring plan for most of the subsidiaries that formed Odebrecht. (Reporting by Aluisio Alves; Editing by Leslie Adler)
BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany must tighten rules for auditing and accounting to prevent billions of other euro frauds such as the Wirecard scandal, Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said in a newspaper interview published on Monday.
FILE PHOTO: German Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann arrives at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellor in Berlin, Germany January 29, 2020. REUTERS / Michele Tantussi / Photo File
Payment service company Wirecard filed for bankruptcy last month after acknowledging that the 1.9 billion euros that should have been deposited in a trustee account by an overseas partner might not exist.
“Wirecard is a scandal, and we must do more to prevent it in the future,” Weidmann told the Funke media group. German authorities must provide rules and procedures for more bites, especially when it comes to auditing and accounting, he added.
“For example, the audit process and the auditor’s duties, authority and responsibilities must be reconsidered,” Weidmann said, adding that the auditor should be able to better examine international business relations.
Prosecutors last week arrested former Wirecard Chief Executive Markus Braun and two other former executives for allegedly masterminding criminal rackets for years to inflate revenues and balances to hide losses since 2015.
This allows the company to borrow 3.2 billion euros through fraud, prosecutors said. The money is now almost certain to disappear, making the biggest fall of the German Wirecard accounting scandal.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz on Friday proposed to strengthen the company’s financial oversight, trying to prevent an expected parliamentary reaction to the regulator’s failure to find unprecedented fraud.
Scholz issued a reform agenda that would provide BaFin’s financial watchdogs with greater investigative and law enforcement powers, expand its mandate to include non-banking financial institutions and strengthen penalties against weak auditors.
Scholz’s plan was released ahead of a closed session of the parliament’s financial committee on Wednesday.
Opposition lawmakers are expected to bake Scholz and Economy Minister Peter Altmaier over the failure of German companies for years to heed warnings from journalists and market skeptics that Wirecard is cooking books.
Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Daniel Wallis
FILE PHOTO: Italian Lombardy Governor Attilio Fontana wearing a protective mask when he announced on Facebook that he had put himself in quarantine after one of his aides tested positive for coronavirus, in this still image taken from a social media video in Milan, Italy, February 26, 2020 Attilio Fontana Facebook Live / REUTERS TV via REUTERS / Photo Files
MILAN (Reuters) – The governor of Lombardy, Italy’s region hardest hit by the corona virus, denied making mistakes on Saturday after he was placed under investigation for alleged fraud over the supply of medical equipment from a company owned by his brother-in-law.
Judges are investigating Attilio Fontana, 68, a member of the League’s right-wing party, for a payment of 250,000 euros to the company, where Fontana’s wife owns 10% of shares, Fontana’s lawyer Jacopo Pensa said on Saturday.
Pensa told reporters Fontana denied making a mistake.
The Lombardy region has ordered 75,000 surgical gowns and 7,000 sanitary kits from the company in contracts worth around 500,000 in April. The company then decided to donate the first stack of 50,000 dresses instead of taking money for them.
Fontana then ordered a bank transfer of 250,000 euros from his personal account in Switzerland to his brother-in-law. Payments were blocked by one of the banks, who notified the financial police.
Pensa said Fontana wanted to compensate his brother-in-law for losing the profits he had suffered by turning purchases into donations.
League leader Matteo Salvini, a former interior minister, defended Fontana, saying the judges were politically motivated. The opposition asked Fontana to resign.
About half of Italy’s 35,000 deaths from the corona virus occur in Lombardy, the industrial and financial heart of northern Italy.
Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Peter Graff
ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber offered to resign on Friday after the court concluded that he covered a meeting with FIFA chief Gianni Infantino and lied to supervisors while his office investigated corruption around the soccer governing body.
FILE PHOTO: Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber arrived for interrogation by the Swiss Parliamentary Judicial Committee as part of a process that could lead to his impeachment, after criticism of the handling of investigations into alleged corruption around the FIFA soccer body, in Bern, Switzerland, May 20, 2020. REUTERS / Arnd Wiegmann
The 54-year-old, who has been the most senior state lawyer in Switzerland since 2012, denies lying but offers to resign to protect the reputation of his institution.
“If they (the court) don’t believe me as the attorney general, then the Attorney General’s Office will be harmed,” he said in a statement.
Lauber has remained steadfast in his work despite suppressing reports from government monitors and calling to quit activists due to slow progress in corruption cases ranging from Petrobras Brazil to 1MDB state funds.
Narrowly re-elected last year, he also faced a parliamentary impeachment process, while the special prosecutor was reviewing criminal complaints against him.
“For a long time, Lauber had to leave, he had systematically destroyed the institution of the Attorney General’s office,” said Mark Pieth, a law professor who is the most famous corruption fighter in Switzerland.
“Although FIFA is very interesting, things that are very serious for Switzerland as a financial center are cases like 1MDB and Petrobras … Very embarrassing, it took a long time for him to leave.”
THREE MEETINGS WITH INFANTINO
The final straw for Lauber came on Friday when the Federal Administrative Court said he committed several breaches of duty, lied to investigators and made “unreasonable” statements about meetings with Infantino, who denied having made a mistake.
Upholding only a portion of his appeal against the sentence of the Supervisory Authority for the Office of the Prosecutor General, the court reduced the sentence deduction in Lauber’s payment.
While Lauber has acknowledged two meetings with Infantino in 2016, he denied the third meeting reported by the media took place in 2017, prompting disciplinary investigations by the agency that oversees the attorney general’s office.
He then said he did not remember the third meeting but that it must have happened based on diary entries and text messages.
FIFA was involved in the worst corruption scandal in its history in 2015 which caused its president Sepp Blatter to be banned from sports while several dozen officials were charged in the United States on corruption-related charges.
A member of the Swiss parliamentary justice committee welcomed Lauber’s decision. “In his position the attorney general must be above suspicion and that would be damaging if he remained,” Ursula Schneider Schuettel told Reuters.
FIFA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Michael Shields
FRANKFURT, July 23 (Reuters) – German retail company and lender Degussa Bank has been put up for sale, said people close to the issue, when their owners faced large payments to other lenders they had after their involvement in fraudulent trade schemes.
Sellside PwC’s advisers plan to send an information package about Degussa Bank to prospective buyers next month, with the aim that the deal will be closed before the end of the year, they said.
Degussa Bank can be worth around 400 million euros ($ 463 million), one of the people said, adding that the core banking activities could be worth around 200 million or roughly the book value.
Other activities such as bank real estate and insurance brokerage businesses can be worth around the same amount, the person said.
Private equity companies, banks, asset managers and insurance brokers are expected to show interest in the bank, said the men, some of whom estimate total valuations of close to 200 million euros.
Degussa Bank is majority owned by Christian Olearius and Max Warburg, who bought it from the Dutch lender ING in 2006 and who also owns the MM Warburg bank based in Hamburg.
The owners of Degussa Bank and PwC declined to comment.
German judges in March ordered MM Warburg to pay 176 million euros for his involvement in the trial of the biggest post-German fraud fraud involving multi-billion euro trade to get false tax returns. The bank appealed the decision.
Olearius and Warburg have said in the past that they would financially support MM Warburg if the bank had to make payments related to its participation in the so-called cum-ex transaction.
Degussa Bank, which was originally part of the Degussa precious metals group, has outlets in the locations of many German companies, which make themselves work banks. Separately, he owns a residential property unit, Industria Wohnen, which among others sells closed property investment funds, and also has an insurance broker Prinas Montan.
In 2019, Degussa Bank reported a profit before tax of 26 million euros. ($ 1 = 0.8632 euros) (Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Susan Fenton)