Asset Recovery Watch

ARW-142
Nicolau Dos Santos Neto
Brazil
Judge (inclusive 1991-1994)
Switzerland
Undertaking Recovery Effort, Location of Recovery Effort, Asset Location / Alleged Asset Location
1999
Ongoing
Art.15, Art.17, Art.23
Yes
Criminal Confiscation; Private Civil Action
MLAT; Letter of Request
Criminal and civil legal mechanisms employed in Switzerland and Brazil; more than a decade of international legal cooperation. (Sources: Swiss Federal Court decision 6B_688/2011 (August 21, 2012) and Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police, "Strengthening co-operation in the fight against crime / Brazilian delegation visits Bern," Press Release October 14, 2002.)
Ongoing
Assets Returned to Victim or Requesting Jurisdiction (in part)
$2,100,000
$4,800,000
No
N/A
According to a July 9, 2013 press release by the Swiss Federal Office of Justice,  "The sum of USD 4.8 million has now been transferred to the Federative Republic of Brazil. The Federal Supreme Court also ordered that Nicolau Dos Santos Neto should pay a replacement value of USD 2.1 million to Brazil."  (Source:  Swiss Federal Office of Justice, Press Release, "USD 4.8 m returned to Brazil", July 9, 2013. ) According to an August 2012 decision by the Swiss Federal Court, between 1991 and 1994, 18 transactions totalling $6.8 million were transferred into accounts in the names of Mr. Neto and his spouse.   The funds were proceeds of fraud and embezzlement by Mr. Neto in connection with the construction of a Regional Labour Court of Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Preliminary criminal inquiry was opened in Switzerland in 1999 but the complicated nature of the case - which included the intervention of third parties, use of shell corporations and international ramifications requiring the sending of letters rogatory to Brazil - added to the length of the case.  (Source:  Swiss Federal Court decision 6B_688/2011 (August 21, 2012).  The funds had been frozen and confiscated pursuant to a Swiss investigation launched in 1999; in 2005, following Mr. Neto's criminal conviction in Brazil, Brazil filed suit in Switzerland to recover the assets.  (Source:  Id. and Jamil Chade, "Suica vai devolver ao Brasil parte do dinheiro desviado por 'Lalau'," Estado.com.br, September 3, 2012, both accessed at http://www.icc-ccs.org/home/news/90-fraudnet-and-its-members-in-the-news....)   According to a 2011 presentation on the case by Brazil's Swiss attorney Yves Klein, in 2001 Brazil was admitted to the Swiss criminal case as an injured party which provided Brazil with the "Right to consult the file, to participate in the acts of investigation, to make determinations on the cause, and to request investigative acts from the examining magistrate: • investigate other bank accounts in Switzerland; • question bank employees so as to assess their criminal liability."  (Source: Attorney Yves Klein, "The TRT Case – The forfeiture of the assets of Nicolau Dos Santos Neto in Switzerland," presentation at the International Fraud & Asset Recovery and Trans-Border Insolvency Cooperation conference of Escola Superior do Ministério Público de São Paulo (November-December 2011). 

According to the August 2012 decision by the Swiss Federal Court, Mr. Neto had been convicted in Brazil in 2005 of bribery, embezzlement, fraud and money laundering, and his conviction was upheld on appeal.  (Source:  Swiss Federal Court decision 6B_688/2011 (August 21, 2012)).

Ministry of Justice; Federal Police
Federal Prosecutor
Federal Regional Court of the 3rd Region
Prosecutor General, Geneva canton; Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police
Prosecutor General - Geneva canton; Federal Republic of Brazil - Attorneys Enrico Monfrini and Yves Klein
Court of Justice, Geneva; Swiss Federal Court