UPI, Dec. 19, 2002
UPI is owned by News World Communications Inc., a media company founded by Moon.
C[O GRANDE, Brazil, Dec. 19 (UPI) — A recent legislative investigative report by the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul called the business activities of the Association of Families for Unification and World Peace “an excellent opportunity.”
The organization, founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, has been viewed with some suspicion by Brazilian authorities. A separate inquiry by Brazilian federal investigators into alleged tax and immigration violations is continuing.
“Reverend Moon’s coming and his projects for Mato Grosso do Sul can and must be considered as an excellent opportunity for us to establish a link with the First World,” said the report released last week.
Mato Grosso do Sul is an inland agricultural state in southwest Brazil.
The Association of Families for Unification and World Peace — known locally by its Portuguese initials, AFUPM — has been buying land since the mid-1990s in the Brazilian region that borders Paraguay.
Last May, Brazilian federal authorities raided holdings belonging to AFUPM, seizing computers and documents on suspicion of tax evasion and immigration violations.
“Although it is formally established in this country as a philanthropic entity, the Association of Families for Unification and World Peace has developed a diversified program that has provoked doubt about the true nature of the organization,” a statement from Brazil’s Federal Police Department said at the time.
A representative for the organization denounced the raid, calling it “a total abuse of power.”
“How can they do this — just invade our property?” AFUPM’s lawyer, Neudir Simao Ferabolli, told United Press International in May, alleging that the federal police used excessive force and were heavily armed.
The federal police began their investigation of AFUPM after allegations by a former employee that the organization was involved in money laundering.
“We knew we were under investigation, all they had to do was ask us for whatever material they wanted and we would have given it to them,” Ferabolli told UPI.
Two months ago, the federal government said it may expropriate portions of the land owned by AFUPM, but as yet there is no final word on the matter.
In the state legislative report, the committee focused on the economic benefits of having AFUPM — and the money it has invested in the region.
The report said it would leave investigation into AFUPM’s tax- and immigration-related activities up to the appropriate authorities.
The report suggested that the legislative committee track AFUPM’s activities.
Its work in educational, scientific and business areas would be subject to approval and would also be “monitored at the beginning, the middle and the end,” the report said.
The report indicated that AFUPM’s activities may involve research into medical herbs, cosmetics, a biotechnology lab, assembly plants for computers and semiconductors, and the setting up of educational facilities.
The committee emphasized the need to “safeguard the right of Brazil to patent products developed here, with the provision of royalties to the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.”