Carrefour Brasil targeted in Sao Paulo bribery probe

SAO PAULO, May 28 (Reuters) - The city of Sao Paulo is investigating a unit of Carrefour Brasil SA for an alleged bribery scheme, which could result in a fine of up to 20% of its 2019 gross revenue, the city’s official gazette said on Thursday.

The city’s investigation is related to a criminal case that uncovered payments to city inspectors totaling around 1.5 million reais ($280,000) to operate, without a license, the headquarters of wholesale unit Atacadao and an adjoining store in Sao Paulo.

Carrefour Brasil did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In March, public prosecutors filed corruption charges against four Atacadao representatives.

If Atacadao is held responsible, the company will be forced to pay a fine between 0.1% and 20% of its gross revenue in the year preceding the probe.

The local subsidiary of France’s Carrefour SA reported gross revenue of 62.22 billion reais in 2019, of which 42.05 billion reais came from Atacadao. It was not immediately clear whether the fine is calculated based on the consolidated numbers or Atacadao’s results.

“Since at least 2007, when Carrefour bought Atacadao, the administrative headquarters in Vila Maria and the adjoining store did not have a license to operate,” public prosecutor Roberto Bodini told Reuters in an interview, adding the license was only obtained in 2015.

$1 = 5.3159 reais Reporting by Gabriela Mello; Editing by Steve Orlofsky