Brookfield's Brazil mall operator charged with bribery

Tue Feb 5, 2013 6:30pm EST
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* State prosecutor alleges bribes for construction permits

* Brookfield denies accusations, opens internal review

* Group has operated in Brazil since late 19th century

By Brad Haynes

SAO PAULO, Feb 5 (Reuters) - A Brazilian prosecutor filed charges on Tuesday against a unit of Canada's Brookfield Asset Management Inc. alleging the subsidiary paid bribes to obtain permits needed to expand a Sao Paulo shopping center.

Brookfield Brasil Shopping Centers, a property-management company, allegedly paid 1.3 million reais ($656,000) to a city representative and chief inspector who approved construction at the Shopping Patio Paulista, according to civil charges filed by state prosecutor Marcelo Camargo Milani.

"There are a series of documents showing that reforms had been paralyzed for two years and then permits appeared within four days of the payments," Milani said in an interview. He said damages in the suit could start around 30 million reais and climb to more than 20 times that.

Reports of corruption in the licensing of Shopping Patio Paulista and other malls have circulated in the Brazilian press for months. Milani said his case was the first of many that could be brought against Brookfield, including criminal charges against its executives.

A spokeswoman for the property management company said Brookfield had not been informed of any charges against it.   Continued...