NEWS FROM BRAZIL supplied by SEJUP (Servico Brasileiro de Justica e Paz).
Number 279, July 10, 1997.
On July 03, the Universal Church of the Reign of God was fined approximately US $90 million by the Brazilian federal tax office. The fine was for taxes owed between 1991 and 1994. Despite being exempt from taxes as a religious organization, the Universal Church was fined because it engaged in activities which were set up to give a profit.
The federal tax office found that the church used its' funds to make loans to a number of its' leaders. The leaders are accused of then using the funds to set up businesses and companies which would subsequently offer services exclusively to the Universal Church. These services included radio and television stations. In 1994 alone the Universal Church made loans of approximately US $21 million to a select number of its' leaders. The federal tax office also discovered that two investment companies linked to the Universal Church had set themselves up in the Cayman Islands which internationally is known to be a tax haven.
In December 1995 the founder of the Universal Church, Edir Macedo, was also fined over US $1 million by the federal tax office. Macedo founded the Universal Church of the Reign of God in Brazil in 1977. Since then it has spread to 50 countries. The Universal Church invests heavily in communications. It is reported to have paid in the region of US $45 million when it bought the Record TV channel in Sao Paulo a few years ago. It also owns 30 radio stations and a number of newspapers. It already has been investigated for the illegal sending of funds to foreign bank accounts; for the use of money from drug trafficking in the purchase of the TV station and for false promises of cures.
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