The Federal Police arrested Rio de Janeiro’s former governor Sergio Cabral last month for money laundering. As of this morning, investigators revealed where exactly Cabral was covering up his bribes: in English schools and bowling rinks.
Businessman John O’Donnel turned in 1 million BRL in phony receipts to the Federal Police through a franchise of English schools called “Brasas”. The schools issued fake invoices to an IT services company owned by Luiz Carlos Bezerra, Cabral’s main bribe operator. Bezerra’s company transferred the fees to the school’s bank account, and the school gave the money back in cash. In return, the school discounted its taxes.
O’Donnel reported to the police that his son noticed accounting irregularities and discontinued the fake invoices. Then, according to O’Donnel, Bezerra asked for more time to figure out how he’d continue to cover up the extra money without the fake receipts.
And, friends, this is where the bowling comes in. In addition to English schools, the O’Donnels own a series of bowling allies in two of Rio’s shopping malls. After the English schools stepped out of the money laundering scheme with Bezerra, the bowling allies filled the void of phony invoices. However, when an administrative employee discovered the strange receipts, she questioned Bezerra over the actual services rendered. Bezerra, instead of responding to the accountant, sent an angry email to O’Donnel.
Covering dirty tracks
In his defense, O’Donnel claimed that the English schools in question operated independently of the overall “Brasas” franchise. In his deposition, O’Donnel stated that Bezerra had asked for his help in issuing invoices in order to substantiate his salary, which lacked an official attestation. O’Donnel claims he was unaware of the use of his fake receipts to cover up the ex-governor’s bribes. To the police, O’Donnel stated he believed that “the money was simply a payment for the services Bezerra provided to Sérgio Cabral”.
And Bezerra provided Cabral with essential services indeed. Bezerra’s company appeared among the construction contractors hired to build public works. Covering up bribes under this guise, the company distributed money to politicians and their families. The receipts in question date back from 2011 to February of last year.