The former mayor of Brazil’s most populous city on Saturday rejected a court ruling in the Channel Island of Jersey that found him guilty of stealing US$10.5 million.
“First, I am not a criminal,” former Sao Paulo mayor Paulo Maluf, 81, told local media.
“Second, I do not have an account, that was a journalistic mistake, you set up this story,” Maluf told the G1 Globo news Web site.
Maluf was found guilty of diverting the funds from Sao Paulo city coffers to accounts belonging to businesses run by relatives in the low-tax island, according to the ruling on Jersey’s legal Web site.
Maluf, Sao Paulo mayor from 1993 to1996 and now a federal deputy, remained defiant.
The ruling “has no legal basis because any public work on Brazilian territory, if it was carried out in an irregular manner — which is not the case here — will have to be judged by Brazilian justice,” he said.
The Jersey court ruling said the money was diverted from the construction of a city road and the funds were deposited by Maluf’s son Flavio after his father left office.
In late 1997 and early 1998, Sao Paulo “was the victim of a fraud substantially, as alleged” and Paulo Maluf “was a party to that fraud,” the ruling in part read.
Flavio Maluf will have to return at least US$22 million, including interest, said the Sao Paulo Prosecutors’ office, which filed the case with Jersey authorities.
“Since the Jersey judge concluded that there was fraud, compounded interests apply and according to the Jersey court the amount can reach US$32 million, while a minimum of US$22 million was already guaranteed,” Sao Paulo chief prosecutor Celso Augusto Coccaro said.
Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, is a self-governing parliamentary democracy and has its own financial, legal and judicial systems.