Former CEO of Brazilian retail giant Americanas arrested amid allegations of billions in fraud

SAO PAULO (AP) — The former CEO of Brazilian retail giant Americanas, Miguel Gutierrez, was arrested Friday in Madrid, accused of participating in a 25 billion reais ($4.5 billion) fraud scheme.

Brazil’s Federal Police added his name to Interpol’s red notice list after determining the company falsified financial results to inflate cash flow and artificially boost the company’s stock. Former directors committed fraud by advancing payments to suppliers through loans, engaging in market manipulation, insider trading, criminal association and money laundering, according to a statement from investigators.

The probe began in January 2023 after Gutierrez’s successor took over as CEO and soon disclosed a cash shortfall of 20 billion reais ($3.6 billion).

Gutierrez’s lawyer told the local press that his client has cooperated with authorities and denies any involvement in the fraud scheme.

Gutierrez, who is also a Spanish citizen, joined Americanas in 1993 and held various positions, gaining the trust of stakeholders Carlos Alberto Sicupira, Marcel Telles and Jorge Paulo Lemann — a multi-billionaire and Brazil’s second richest person.

Federal prosecutors said that the company’s board has cooperated with the investigation by providing information about the fraud scheme.

Brazil’s federal government has yet to receive an extradition request for Gutierrez from the court. Brazil signed an extradition treaty with Spain in 1988, stipulating that each country may refuse to extradite its own nationals. The Spanish national police neither confirmed nor denied the arrest.

On Thursday, the Brazilian Federal Police executed 15 arrest warrants and search and seizure orders for other former Americanas directors in Rio de Janeiro and seized their assets. Lemann, Sicupira and Telles were not included in this police raid.


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