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São Paulo council seeks charges against Itaú directors for alleged tax offenses

The inquiry commission of the São Paulo city council has recommended that 97 directors of Itaú Unibanco Holding SA be indicted for several crimes for allegedly simulating the transfer of some of the bank's operations to another municipality to evade taxes, Folha de S.Paulo reported.

In its final report on the case, the commission is accusing the directors of criminal organization, tax violations and false representation. It also recommends the confiscation of the directors' assets.

The commission will send the report to the city's public prosecutor's office, which will decide whether to carry on with the investigation and file an official court complaint.

The investigation delves into Itaú's alleged attempt to manipulate tax laws by moving certain operations between the company's official headquarters in the municipalities of Poá and Barueri and the city of São Paulo. In November, the municipal government of São Paulo fined Itaú unit Banco Itaucard SA about 3.80 billion reais for a related tax violation case.

Earlier in 2019, the bank agreed to transfer the headquarters of several of its subsidiaries to São Paulo from Poá and Barueri.

Itaú has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, noting in its latest statement that the results of the council's report are "false and inconsistent."

In addition, the commission's report states that another bank, Banco Safra SA, also allegedly planned to evade taxes using a similar strategy to that of Itaú, in which it will keep its leasing company, Safra Leasing SA Arrendamento Mercantil, in Poá. The commission calls for an investigation of 13 Banco Safra directors for the same crimes it alleges Itaú committed.

Banco Safra has also reportedly refuted the allegations.

As of Dec. 5, US$1 was equivalent to 4.21 Brazilian reais.