Cisco a Target of Brazil Tax Probe

The computer company may have evaded taxes on goods shipped from offshore tax havens, authorities believe.
Stephen TaubOctober 17, 2007

Cisco Systems’ Brazilian offices are being investigated for allegedly engaging in an elaborate tax evasion scheme, according to the Associated Press.

Authorities are looking into whether the world’s largest maker of computer network equipment is trying to avoid duties on products shipped from a number of offshore tax havens, the AP report said. Police and tax agents reportedly arrested 40 people on Tuesday and searched homes of Brazilians.

One of the individuals being investigated is a former top Cisco executive for Brazil, according to the AP, citing a statement from federal judge Alexandre Cassetari. The statement did not name the executive.

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Cisco spokesman Felipe Lamus told the AP the company is “cooperating fully with the investigation.” He would not comment on the raids or whether any current or former Cisco executives were among those arrested.

The two-year probe was apparently extensive. According to the report, about 650 agents executed 93 search warrants. The scheme’s aim was to avoid import, sales, and corporate taxes, the AP said, citing a statement from federal police.

Authorities reportedly seized $10 million in merchandise, a commercial jet, 18 vehicles, and about $400,000 in Brazilian and U.S. currency.

The probe focused on at least $500 million in products shipped to Brazilian clients from tax havens like Panama, the Bahamas, and the British Virgin islands, according to the police statement.