The SFO has been successful in recovering over $7.7m from a single UK bank account which had been frozen in 2020, following a report that these funds were linked to former Petrobas executive, Mario Ildeu de Miranda.
Mr Miranda was convicted of 37 counts of money laundering in Brazil in 2019 as part of "Operation Carwash", or Operation Lava Jato, an investigation into systematic bribery at Petrobas a state-run oil, natural gas and energy company. He was sentenced to a six-year prison sentence.
Following Mr Miranda's conviction, in August 2020 the SFO was successful in applying to freeze his UK account. The SFO’s investigation uncovered that funds had been transferred out of his Swiss bank account and siphoned through other banks in Switzerland, Malta, Portugal, the UAE and the Bahamas before being deposited in an account in London.
In a Court ruling issued today, the Judge said that the money in Mr Miranda's London bank account came from unlawful conduct and could therefore be recovered by the SFO. He did not need to be convicted in a UK court for the funds to be seized.
The SFO has broad powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) to seize assets from individuals and organizations. Part 5 of POCA establishes a regime for the civil recovery of the proceeds of crime.
This is the largest amount ever seized by the SFO from a single bank account.
Mr Miranda remains the subject of two ongoing investigations into corruption in Brazil.
In another blow for Petrobas, it is facing a multibillion-dollar tax bill after losing an appeal involving import duties on charter deals for vessels from international markets in 2010, 2011 and 2013. The ruling could cost Petrobas £3.4bn.
It is understood that federal taxes due to Brazil's unemployment insurance and social security regimes are in question.
Appeals are being considered in both cases.
Over two years, we unpicked a complex web of transactions across the world – exposing Mr Miranda’s attempt to conceal criminal proceeds and ensuring that the UK cannot be used as a hiding place for criminal assets.”