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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 December, 2004, 11:37 GMT
Brazil corruption charges urged
President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.
Brazil's President Lula promised a crackdown on corruption last year
More than 90 people in Brazil face possible charges after a two-year state inquiry into money laundering.

The so-called Banestado report looked at more than 1.5 million financial transactions between 1996 and 2002.

Among the 91 people facing prosecution are a former mayor of Sao Paulo and the former president of Brazil's Central Bank, who denies any wrongdoing.

The inquiry, the largest of its kind in Brazil, alleges that at least $30bn (15.5bn) was sent abroad to avoid tax.

'Politically motivated'

Its authors recommended that charges be laid against Gustavo Franco, the ex-president of the Central Bank, and the former mayor of Sao Paulo, Celso Pitta.

Mr Franco, who served under the last government, is accused of bending rules related to certain accounts through which the money was allegedly moved.

He denies the claims, which his supporters say are politically motivated.

A spokesman for Mr Pitta declined to comment on the case, the Reuters news agency reported.

Corruption crackdown

Another of those accused - Samuel Klein, the founder of Brazilian retail chain Casas Bahias - said he had done nothing wrong.

The governor of Brazil's Central Bank, Henrique Meirelles, was investigated but his name will not be passed to prosecutors.

Brazil's President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva promised a crackdown on corruption after he took power in elections in 2002.

The parliamentary inquiry's initial focus was Banestado, a scandal-hit provincial bank in the south of the country, the BBC's Steve Kingstone in Sao Paulo says.

The report may well be amended before it is approved by parliament, he adds, after which it will be handed to state prosecutors for possible criminal investigation.

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