Rio de Janeiro, Jul 12 (Prensa Latina) Brazil’s controversial Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, a sort of capitalist transnational and exploiter of the peoples’ faith, has been the center of scandal Tuesday, after millions in allegedly illegal funds were discovered.
Headlining the main papers today were the Monday arrests of the deputy of the rightist PFL (Liberal Front Party) and president of this sect, Joao Batista, and another six people in the possession of seven suitcases containing about 10 million reales, some 4 million dollars.
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Batista, two bishops and their wives, and the pilot and copilot of an executive jet were all arrested in Brasilia on their way to Sao Paulo.
Money has been a prioritized objective of this sect since its origin, when its founder Edir Macedo split from the other three leaders of another church that had formed, because he demanded 50 percent of the collections.
A release by the Universal Church corroborated what the deputy had said: the money resulted from parishioners’ contributions and was to be deposited in Sao Paulo.
However, the Federal Police suspect it results from money laundering or tax evasion.
In 1992 Bishop Macedo was imprisoned for 11 days in Brazil for fraud and false pretenses and in 1996, investigations began into his methods of collecting funds, fraud involving international currency exchange, tax evasion, and links with drug-traffickers.
Macedo also faces investigations in another eight countries, while Batista is under investigation by the Supreme Federal Court, in relation to the business dealings of five radio and television entities belonging to the sect, as the Brazilian Constitution explicitly prohibits parliamentarians from directing mass media.
The funds have been confiscated until the completion of investigations.