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Five charged in Brazilian tax scam

Swiss prosecutors have filed charges against five Zurich bankers accused of helping a ring of Brazilian tax officials launder about SFr60 million ($53.2 million).

The five were not identified on Monday, except as having been “middle- and high-level” management at the now-defunct Discount Bank & Trust bank.

The bankers are believed to have kept accounts at the bank for tax revisers and high-ranking officials from Brazil, who invested SFr60 million worth of cash obtained through criminal origins over a period of three years.

A group of Brazilians were already sentenced to prison terms in 2003 in connection with the operation. A decision in September by a higher court confirmed their imprisonment for money laundering on behalf of a criminal organisation as well as corruption.

The sentences were raised in certain cases to between 14 and 17.5 years, Swiss prosecutors said in a statement.

Swiss officials began investigating in 2001 when Discount Bank & Trust Cie was taken over a by a Geneva-based private bank, which reported a number of financial irregularities to authorities.

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