SAO PAULO Dec 2 A judge in Brazil sentenced
Daniel Dantas, one of the country's most prominent bankers, to
10 years in prison for attempting to bribe a police officer, a
federal court said on Tuesday.
Dantas, the founder of the Opportunity financial group and
a former rising star in Brazil's financial world, was arrested
in July along with a former mayor of Sao Paulo on charges of
money laundering and tax evasion.
Prosecutors accuse Dantas of having offered a police
officer $1 million in exchange for dropping investigations in
to his case, which has received blanket coverage in the
Brazilian media in recent months.
A Dantas associate was recorded apparently giving the bribe
by a hidden police camera in a scene that was shown repeatedly
on Brazilian television.
Dantas still faces the charges he was arrested under in
July, which relate to a financial scandal that hit President
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's first administration. In the
"mensalao," or monthly allowance, scandal, the opposition
alleged that undeclared campaign funds were used to buy votes
in support of government proposals in Congress.
Judge Fausto Martin de Sanctis of a Sao Paulo federal court
also ordered Dantas to pay 13.4 million reais ($5.6 million) in
fines and compensations. He did not issue an arrest warrant and
Dantas can appeal the ruling. White-collar criminals are rarely
imprisoned in Brazil.
"The crime attributed to my client did not happen," Dantas'
defense lawyer Nelio Machado said in a statement.
"His defense was cut short, the evidence is false and the
judge blocked the investigation needed to demonstrate the
unfoundedness of the accusation."
Dantas, who is in his mid-50s, was a fund manager for
Citigroup and a key figure in the privatization of the telecoms
sector in the late 1990s. His Opportunity group used to control
phone company Brasil Telecom Participacoes BTRP4.SABRP.N,
then one of the country's largest telecoms groups, together
with Citigroup (C.N) and Telecom Italia (TLIT.MI).
In 2005, he was indicted for suspected involvement in
corporate espionage on firms including Telecom Italia.
In the ruling released on Tuesday, the judge also sentenced
the former chief executive of Brasil Telecom, Humberto Jose
Rocha Braz, to seven years in prison for involvement in seeking
(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca, Maria Pia Palermo and Guilherme
Vieira; Writing by Stuart Grudgings; Editing by Todd Benson and