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Anti-corruption law will be used to pursue charges against Safra, Bradesco

Brasil-based federal public ministry MPF will use the country's anti-corruption law to pursue legal charges against Safra Group, Banco Bradesco SA and others as part of the so-called "Operação Zelotes" tax and bribery case, Valor Econômico reported.

Federal prosecutors filed lawsuits Jan. 25 against 13 of those under investigation, according to the report. One of the lawsuits deals solely with alleged impropriety on tax processes related to Safra Group's JS Administração de Recursos SA.

Prosecutors are seeking to freeze up to 3.5 million Brazilian reais in assets, while also looking for compensation for the damage inflicted, suspension of political rights and prohibition of contracting with the public power for three years for several people, including banker Joseph Safra, against whom a federal court dismissed corruption charges in December 2016.

Bradesco, meanwhile, has been under investigation for purportedly hiring a group to pay bribes to government tax officials in exchange for writing off corporate tax debts, the publication said.

In a securities filing, Bradesco said "until now the company has not become aware, officially, of any new facts concerning ... 'Operação Zelotes.'" The bank also reiterated that "it has not carried out any proposal, contract or payment to anyone for any kind of advantage with the Board of Tax Appeals CARF."

As of Jan. 25, US$1 was equivalent to 3.17 Brazilian reais.