RIO DE JANEIRO—The Brazilian Federal Police have apprehended the $7.5 million art collection of banker Edemar Cid Ferreira, the controlling shareholder of Banco Santos, which was taken over by the Brazilian Central Bank last November.
The move came amid charges of mismanagement. Ferreira is a well-known promoter of Brazilian art and culture in the United States and elsewhere. The police seized the collection during a raid at the banker’s Sao Paulo mansion in early March.
“Ferreira’s artworks and mansion were purchased with funds diverted from Banco Santos,” federal prosecutor Silvio Luis Martins de Oliveira has charged, adding that among evidence of wrongdoing was a listing of a large number of companies with no apparent sources of income that Ferreira purportedly ran from virtual offices; these, headed by front men, reputedly received money skimmed off the bank. “It’s not only mismanagement, it’s fraud,” the prosecutor contends.
Fraud charges against Ferreira, who could not be reached for comment, have been filed before the 6th Criminal Court, Sao Paulo.
Ferreira has devoted the last five years to promoting Brazilian culture abroad. He also has made a name for himself as an eclectic art collector. His holdings range from works by contemporary artists the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jasper Johns to a Bible printed in Nuremberg in 1493; from photos by Richard Avedon to an Egyptian sarcophagus dating back to circa 1069-945 B.C.