Source: AdobeStock / maykal
Brazilian law enforcement agencies have swooped on the home of a local government chief they suspect of heading a crime ring that laundered money using cryptoassets – along with a controversial figure named “the Bitcoin Pharaoh.”
The raid took place at the home of the Arma??o de B?zios councilman Lorram Gomes da Silveira, Globo reported, and saw officers confiscate over USD 9,250 in cash.
Multiple agencies were involved in the raid, including Rio de Janeiro’s state ministry-run Specialized Action Group for the Combat of Organized Crime. The agencies, as well as public prosecutors, believe that the councilman headed a “criminal organization” that oversaw large-scale “corruption,” making use of “false documents.”
The “organization,” the agencies say, saw the councilman make use of crypto as a tool of “embezzlement.”
Lorram is in his third term as councilor of Arma??o de B?zios, a position he was first elected to in 2009. From November 2018 to May 2019, he served as chief of staff to the city’s mayor. And it was in this period, the ministry says, that the crimes were committed.
Two other men were also investigated in conjunction with the same alleged crimes: Glaidson Ac?cio dos Santos, known as “the Bitcoin Pharaoh,” and Carlos Alexandre da Silva.
Officers appear to believe that Lorram accepted cash payments in exchange for granting Arma??o de B?zios-based individuals licenses and other favors – and allegedly had the Pharaoh and da Silva convert the cash into crypto in a bid to “hide” the funds.
The ministry says that Lorram has now been suspended from carrying out public duties.
The ministry began its investigations into suspected money laundering violations in April last year, and suspects that other City Hall employees may have participated in the criminal “organization.”
The judiciary, meanwhile, has determined that around USD 271,000 worth of Loram’s assets are “unaccounted for” – and may be hidden away in crypto wallets they have not yet gained access to.
The “Pharaoh” was jailed last year and is awaiting trial on charges of orchestrating a USD 7 billion crypto-themed Ponzi scheme that allegedly promised investors 10% returns on their stakes.
Earlier this month, FDR reported, the “Pharaoh” declared his intention to run for election – from prison – as a candidate for the Christian Democratic Party in October’s general election.