Banco Paulista and BP Trading appear as buyers of at least BRL 278 million in gold, between 2018 and 2019, from a company suspected of selling ore illegally extracted from the Amazon region.
The information is in reports on FD Gold, by businessman Dirceu Sobrinho, attached to the investigation that gave rise to the Aerogold operation, launched by the PF on Monday (19).
BP Trading is one of the largest gold exporters in the country and its founders were executives who were already part of the Banco Paulista company.
The PF action was brought forward as Sobrinho, one of the main names in the Brazilian gold market and president of Anoro (National Gold Association), was arrested on Sunday (18) in a police blitz in São Paulo because of the arrest warrant. opened by the Federal Court of Rondônia.
as showed the SheetSobrinho owns the 78 kg shipment seized by the Federal Police in Sorocaba (SP) in May this year.
Until the outbreak, the operation progressed from mapping the chain of extraction and commercialization of gold extracted from protected areas –where mining is considered illegal– to sale to larger buyers and exporters.
The investigation began after the PF seized 3 kg of gold in Porto Velho (RO). The aircraft came from the city of Japurá, in Amazonas, where there is no release for gold extraction.
With the development of the investigation, the PF received information showing that, between 2018 and 2019 alone, Sobrinho’s company moved R$ 2.1 billion, according to information provided by Coaf.
Most of the amounts received by the company were from Banco Paulista and BP Trading, whose founders are former directors of the bank. The bank and the company, however, were not targets of the operation.
In a note, the bank confirmed that it had gold purchase business with the company, but said it followed all the rules and guidelines of the Central Bank and Brazilian legislation.
The bank did not respond, however, about its relationship with BP Trading, one of the country’s largest gold exporters.
BP Trading, in turn, also confirmed the purchase of gold from the company and that it complies with the legislation.
“For this reason, it transferred to FD Gold in commercial transactions, which, according to the legislation of the Central Bank, a regulatory and supervisory body, as it is a financial asset, must be made with a financial institution authorized by it”, says an excerpt from the note sent. the report.
During the investigation, based on messages found on the pilot’s cell phone and on information sent by Coaf (Council for the Control of Financial Activities), delegate Ana Paula Meirelles de Oliveira mapped a network of shell companies and prospectors responsible for extracting and marketing gold illegally.
In total, all investigated companies and individuals are subject to a court order blocking assets of up to BRL 5.5 billion – an amount they would have moved in the period.
The Court also authorized 18 arrest warrants, two of which were preventive arrests and 16 temporary arrests, in Rondônia, Amazonas, Acre, Pará, Mato Grosso and São Paulo.
Among the targets of search warrants are at least four garimpeiro cooperatives: the Garimpeiros do Rio Madeira (Coogarima), the Garimpeiros do Amazonas (Coogam), the Ore Extractors of Southern Pará, and the Tapajos.
According to the PF, these entities serve as the other end of the operation, heating up illegally extracted gold and laundering the money paid for it. BRL 14.4 million paid by Dirceu Sobrinho’s FD Gold to these cooperatives was identified — an amount that the PF asks to be blocked.
The cooperatives, together with their respective networks of prospectors, extract the gold from regions where the activity is not allowed, register the ore as if it were from a regular mine and sell it to Sobrinho’s company.
The investigation also points out Orestes Machado, known as Goiano, as the main leader of the criminal organization, which operated in Rondônia and Amazonas. He was the one who sold the gold extracted by the cooperatives for Sobrinho’s company, and he was also the one who arranged the flight that gave rise to the investigation.
“It is imperative to emphasize that Goiano has already been indicted twice in this superintendence for crimes related to mining extraction, which demonstrates the habitual practice of crimes, with crime being his usual way of life”, says the delegate in the representation sent to Justice.
According to the PF, he uses family members such as oranges to launder the money from illegal mining and has moved around R$10 million in the last five years.
Intercepted messages and calls show that Goiano tried to cancel the transport of the seized gold and that gave rise to the investigation, advising the pilot that the police were waiting for him on the airstrip.
Tania Sena, a Coogam partner, was present on the plane, and parts of dredgers that belonged to Geomário Sena, her father, were found, identified by the Federal Police as a prospector and accountant of the same cooperative. Together, the two and the company received almost R$1.6 million from FD Gold.
They also received, says the PF, money from Coogarima, which is in Porto Velho (RO), where the aircraft landed. According to the PF, the cooperative “is the one that most suspiciously moves money”, with R$ 6.2 million received from FD Gold.
Another cooperative, Tapajós, received R$ 3.9 million from Sobrinho’s company, and made payments to a number of the investigated characters, including residents of other states, tourism companies and food sales.
When contacted, the cooperatives and their employees did not respond to the contacts in the report.
In May, after the Federal Police seized 78 kg of gold — estimated at R$23 million — in Sorocaba, in the interior of São Paulo, the businessman went public to confirm that the metal actually belonged to his company. At the time, he defended that everything had a legal origin.
“This gold belongs to my company,” said the businessman, in a video sent by the FD Gold press office. “All of it was purchased under a mining permit granted, which does not belong to the indigenous area, which does not belong to illegal mining.”