Gabriel Abreu – Cenarium Magazine
MANAUS – The company Braga Veículos Ltda., owned by family members of Senator Eduardo Braga (MDB-AM), is one of the targets of the “Operation Francamente”, launched on Wednesday, 17, which investigates irregularities in the documentation of vehicles produced in the Manaus Free Trade Zone (ZFM) and shipped out of the Amazon. The car dealership is managed by the senator’s cousins.
The current senator is the nephew of the late former senator João dos Santos Braga Junior, who died in 2015. According to a query conducted on Wednesday on the Federal Revenue website, the company is managed by João dos Santos Braga Neto and Maria de Fátima Pinheiro Braga Roman, both cousins of Eduardo Braga and children of João dos Santos Braga Junior. Two other companies are tied up as “partners”, both of which are legally represented by Eduardo Braga’s cousin.
The action was triggered by the Federal Public Prosecutors (MPF) and State (MPE), the Federal Revenue and the Federal Police (PF) in Amazonas and Mato Grosso. With a capital stock of R$ 24.8 million reais, the company, headquartered on Ramos Ferreira Avenue, Praça 14 neighborhood, south of the capital of Amazonas, was the target of a warrant of search and seizure. Jewelry and cash were seized at the location. Two other dealerships – Garcia Veículos and Pedragon – and the State Department of Traffic of Amazonas (Detran-AM) are also investigated and were targets of the operation.
The operation was based exclusively on search and seizure warrants, but, according to the operation’s balance, an employee of one of the dealerships was arrested for illegally carrying a firearm. “The investigation aims to combat the irregular commercialization of the trucks, the fraud and the removal of the identification documentation, via Detran, and the sending of these trucks for circulation outside Manaus”, explained the Internal Revenue auditor, Rogério Bigotti.
Understanding the investigation
On July 8 last year, during the approach to the driver of a truck-boy at the Federal Highway Police (PRF) station in Cáceres (MT – Mato Grosso state), irregularities were found in the Vehicle Licensing Registration Certificates (CRLVs) of three vehicles – two S10s and a Hilux, all brand new – produced in the MFTz. For vehicles to be taken to other regions of Brazil, there must be formalization with the IRS, which may or may not remove the tax restriction on CRLV.
The placements were made without the annotations of the tax restrictions, thus indicating possible fraud in the issuance of vehicle licensing documents. According to the IRS, in the documents of new vehicles, originating or coming to integrate the region of the Manaus Free Trade Zone, it is mandatory to state that there is tax restriction, ie, these cargo vehicles receive tax benefits such as exemption from Industrialized Product Tax (IPI) and reduction to zero rate of PIS and Cofins.
Thus, the final commercialization values end up being much lower than those practiced in other regions of the country. But, the tax benefits are conditioned to the use of the good in the favored area, i.e., in the Free Trade Zone. Therefore, the goods, in this case the vehicles, cannot be removed from the Free Trade Zone without the due payment of the exempted or zero-rated taxes.
The reporter contacted Senator Eduardo Braga, who preferred not to comment. The Braga Group, which manages Braga Veículos, clarified in a statement that the investigation “aims to investigate possible violations in sales, by dealers, of utility vehicles through irregular transfers to other states of the Federation without the proper collection of taxes and duties.
As for the jewelry and cash values, the company informs that these are personal assets of the group’s partners, duly declared in their income taxes, which are kept in the family office located in their own room at the same address of the company. The group also informed that it is collaborating with the competent authorities.
Also in a statement, the State Department of Traffic of Amazonas (Detran-AM) recalled that the investigations that provided the basis for the ongoing operation by the Federal Police were initiated by the body in December 2020, which put an end to a scheme that defrauded more than $ 30 million in state and federal taxes. At the time, 26 people were arrested, including vehicle dispatchers, employees, trainees and former employees.
Detran also reported that all people arrested in connection with Detran-AM were disconnected from the body soon after the operation, still in 2020.
“The investigations found that the scheme worked as follows: vehicles that by law were sold in Manaus with ICMS and IPI tax exemption, such as pickup trucks and motorcycles, ended up not having the restriction of circulation outside the Amazon included in the document at the time of the first registration. Without this restriction, the vehicle bought cheaper in the state ended up being resold in other places at a higher price”, recalled Detran.