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Brazil Breaks Smuggling and Tax-Evasion Scheme Involving US-Based Cisco

Cisco in Brazil US-based Cisco, a multinational that designs and sells communications technology, and over 30 Brazilian and foreign companies in the area of technology are involved in a smuggling and tax-evasion scheme broken today, October 16, by the Brazilian authorities.

According to Brazil's federal police, who worked with the Internal Revenue service and the Public Attorney Office, the tax fraud brought Brazil a loss of about 1.5 billion Brazilian reais (US$ 832 million) to the nation's coffers, including non-paid taxes, plus fines and interest. The police operation was nicknamed Persona.

The police also seized US$ 290,000 and 240,000 reais in hard cash, products valued in excess of US$ 10 million, one executive jet and 18 vehicles, according to police chief í‰rika Tatiana Nogueira, responsible for the Operation Persona enquiry.

The firms involved, say the Brazilian authorities, imported irregularly IT equipment valued at US$ 500 million in the last five years. US$ 500 million dollars was the declared value.

The police believe that thanks to the fraudulent plan those involved in the scheme were importing a monthly volume of 50 tons in products from the American multinational.

Brazilian authorities say that in order to pay less taxes, those involved in the scheme would overbill hardware, which has a lower tax tariff and underbill software.

"The Brazilian computer industry has to face a very stiff competition from smugglers," said acting Minister of Justice, Luiz Paulo Barreto. "We've just dismantled a formal import scheme that was causing tremendous loss to the Brazilian industry and to jobs in the sector."

The arrangement used off-shore companies located in fiscal paradises like Bahamas, Panama and British Virgin Islands) with assistance from a law firm specialized in foreign trade and international law. This system guaranteed that the name of the real importer of the Cisco products would remain anonymous.

The police arrested 40 people and another four are still being sought by the authorities. Among those taken into custody are the president and directors of the Cisco branch in Brazil and six tax auditors.

The arrests were made in the Northeast (Ilhéus, Salvador) and the Southeast (São Paulo, Santos, Campinas, Rio de Janeiro) of Brazil.


  • Show Comments (9)

  • Ric

    The Cisco Kid Wore Two Sixguns, Maybe 44’s. In Brazil, “For Export Only”
    “Ceesco, thee sheriff, he is caw-ming.”

    “I know, Pancho. Eet’s time for us to go. Ondalay!”

  • angelina

    To Gabriel Torres
    It is truly interesting to read your article. Do you know any website that I can refer to regarding the arms dealing in Brazil? I am not an ex-CIA or ex-M16 officer in charge actually I am kind of interested to learn more about arm dealings activity.

  • Gabriel Torres

    My two cents on this story…

  • Me

    Taxes and duty are much lower now…
    There was an effective rate of about 400% to 600% on computer equipment in the 1990’s, so the current 160% is a lot lower.

    Not much to brag about, though. Think of the productivity lost due to businesses not being able to afford capital equipment.

    The Brazilian government needs to reduce the outrageous pension benefits for government employees and then reduce the tax rates proportionally. After that, the total tax revenues would grow and the government would have the money that is desperately needed for infrastructure improvements.

    Of course, that’s not going to happen, because the people that would have to vote to lower the pension benefits are the same ones that will receive them after a time. This is such a blatant conflict of interest!

    Pizza anyone?

  • bo

    One more thing…
    just to show how ridiculous Receipta Federal is concerning items entering this country……I just got back from the states two weeks ago. I played a lot of golf and my engagement ring that I purchased three years ago at H.Stern in Salvador was causing a blister, so I took it off. I forgot it at my mothers house and she called me the day I arrived in Brazil and told me it was there. I phoned Receipta at the post office and they said, “did you declare the ring when you travelled?” I said, “no, I didn’t, it’s a personal item, I never have and never would declare the ring on my finger, the watch on my wrist, etc, etc. Also, I have the receipt where I purchased this ring in Salvador three years ago and it’s also obvious that it’s not a new ring, that it’s been worn.” The lady then said, “well, it’s possible that Receipta in Rio will want you to pay tax on the ring”. I told her, “if that’s the case I’ll sue Receipta”. She said, “Well that’s your option sir.”

    I told my mother not to send it, I’ll pick it up on my next trip back to the states. Isn’t that absurd?

  • bo

    I wonder….
    exactly how much Cisco in the U.S. knew about all of this. From what I’m seeing, I’d have to guess not much. But this situation once again shows the ridiculous lengths that people go to to get things into this country. The taxes here are absolutely absurd, the highest taxed country on planet earth. One would think with all the taxes charged, not only on imports, that Brazil would have a super-highway system all throughout the country. That it would have 1st world quality, public (free) education, and a police force that was compensated sufficiently enough that they didn’t have to ask for bribes on a daily basis.

    There may be corruption in the U.S., but you certainly see a return for your tax dollars there. What about Brazil? If I want my child to have a good education I have to pay for it myself. If I want security, I have to pay for it myself, and if I want good infrastructure, well, I need to get the fuck out of Brazil. 🙁

  • angelina

    Good Track Record
    I am kind of curious that Cisco System is also involve in this type of criminal acts. Perharps it is time to tighten your border security.

  • ch.c.

    Funny that Brazil famous and world reknown INjustice dept has done NOTHING, when well over than BRL100 billion were smuggled out of the country…..ILLEGALLY….between 1998 and 2002 !

    Your masters crooks (your senators) even voted in december 2004 NOT to open a formal investigation and trials.
    Guess why.
    90 Brazilians politicians, some of them senators and congressmen were clearly named in the initial investigation report.

    😀 😉 😀 😉 😀 😉 😀 😉 😀 😉 😀 😉 😀 😉

  • ch.c.

    Interesting ! And simple calculations…..
    US$ 500 millions of imported IT products….made a TAX evasion of US$ 832 millions !

    Simple demonstration that your tax rate on foreign goods in the IT sector is 160 % !!!!

    With such a high import tax rate, look no further as to why Brazil has one of the world LOWEST economic growth rate in the last 5 years.
    Development and growth are simp’ly unnafordable and impossible, when your already LOW GDP per capita is further penalized by high costs of products that are heavily taxed.

    And do you really believe that developed countries will negotiate on agriculture only…..AT THE WTO….as you are dreaming for ?????

    More idiots than Brazilians there is not on earth. You just cannibalize and penalize your own economic growth rate !

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