Brazilian prosecutors have charged Joseph Safra, the world’s richest banker, in connection with an alleged scheme to reduce or waive fines on back taxes.
Prosecutors said in a statement Thursday that Safra knew about a 2014 plan by executives at Banco Safra to pay more than $4 million in bribes to government officials.
Bank executive Joao Inacio Puga, who allegedly negotiated the bribe-payment scheme, was also charged, based on recorded conversation with tax officials.
The statement said that Safra was not directly involved in the bribery negotiations, but the conversation showed that Puga reported to Safra on the scheme.
Banco Safra said in a statement that the charges filed by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office were “unfounded,” adding that the Safra Group did not offer any bribe to tax auditors and did not receive any benefits.
Safra's wealth is estimated at about $18 billion by Forbes magazine.