February 9, 2017 / 11:07 PM / 2 years ago

Brazil charges 14 in local Mitsubishi carmaker tax avoidance case

SAO PAULO, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors on Thursday charged another 14 individuals in connection with a sweeping probe of Brazil’s tax auditing court.

The latest charges relate to privately owned MMC Automotores do Brasil LTDA, which has a license to manufacture and sell vehicles with Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp brand in Brazil. According to investigators, a 33.8 million reais ($10.8 million) bribe was paid to the perpetrators of the scheme, who acted “to manipulate” the tax court rulings, according to the statement.

Prosecutors allege that the bribe helped MMC Automotores avoid paying 600 million reais at current values in taxes.

MMC Automotores declined to comment.

Operation Zelotes, as the tax investigation is known, centers on allegations that dozens of companies bribed members of the tax court, a Finance Ministry body that hears appeals on tax disputes, to get favorable rulings that reduced or waived the amounts they owed.

The 14 people were charged with “corruption, traffic of influence and money laundering” as a result of an investigation began that began in 2014, according to the statement. ($1 = 3.1299 Brazilain reais) (Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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