BRASILIA, June 8 A Brazilian presidential decree
raising fines on banks and listed companies involved in illicit
acts aims to empower the central bank and the country's
securities industry watchdog in their efforts to bolster
transparency, Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles said on
Speaking in Paris, Meirelles said the decree, which aims to
increase fines on banks to up to 2 billion reais ($610 million)
from 250,000 reais currently, had been under study for some
time. His comments were released by the finance ministry's press
The decree announced this week would also allow the central
bank to strike plea-bargain agreements with financial firms that
admit breaching the law in exchange for softer fines or more
lenient prison terms for their executives. The central bank is
Brazil's banking and financial industry watchdog; the CVM, as
the securities industry watchdog is known, oversees the
functioning of capital markets.
"This certainly gives more power to the central bank and the
CVM to implement their measures," Meirelles said, without
elaborating on the size and scope of the new framework.
President Michel Temer's decree, which was announced late on
Wednesday, has about 180 days to be discussed and voted on in
Congress to become law.
Meirelles' remarks underscore that senior officials
understand that a series of corruption probes investigating cozy
ties between politicians and business people are taking place at
a fast pace, requiring rapid action to fine-tune legislation.
Analysts have said the move followed growing concern that some
of the probes will begin ensnaring banks and other financial
In a statement earlier in the day, the central bank said the
value of fines in eventual leniency agreements would depend on
the gravity of the infractions committed, as well as the size
and the financial capacity of a financial institution to bear
with such a penalty. The decree is not retroactive, it said.
The decree was announced at a time when Congress is
launching an investigation into the stock and currency trades of
JBS SA when news of a plea-bargain testimony from its
owners surfaced. JBS, which is controlled by the Batista
billionaire family, is the world's No. 1 meatpacker.
Meatpacking is the latest sector of the economy to be hit by
a three-year corruption investigation in Brazil known as
"Operation car Wash." Some analysts say the probe could extend
into the financial sector.
($1 = 3.2810 reais)
(Reporting by Marcela Ayres; Writing by Alonso Soto; Editing by
Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Frances Kerry)